Researchers built a psychology program for improving well-being among refugee children

For the first time, a positive psychology-based intervention program has been constructed by researchers for use among young refugees. The intervention is known as Strengths for the Journey and a study of the program was published in Development and Psychopathology.

In the study, researchers evaluated the intervention throughout its seven-day timeframe, in which 72 children residing in refugee camps in Southeastern Europe were utilized as participants. The participants, originally from Middle-eastern countries like Syria, were anywhere between 7 to 14 years-old.

Generally, upon arrival, refugees are placed in camps with restricted access to education and mental health benefits. Therefore, the intervention aimed at building positive psychological resources such as optimistic thinking, positive emotions, nature connectedness, character strengths, and mindfulness; all these subsequently boost psychological well-being and resilience.

In the findings, researchers determined that the intervention improved well-being among the young refugees, boosting optimism, and lowering affective symptoms associated with the environmental changes. The outcome of the intervention was efficient enough to give researchers the suggestion of conducting future studies in other refugee camps outside of Southeast Europe, where the therapeutic potential could be as effective using the program.

“Our approach is based on positive psychology and aims to draw participants’ attention to positive psychological resources in order to promote and enhance well-being among young refugees,” researchers explained.

“The intervention was developed in direct response to needs highlighted by NGOs working with children living in refugee camps in Lesvos. It is built on a group-based, interactive, non-clinical approach and was developed to target areas which were identified as being important to the well-being and resilience of child refugees in this environment.”

“The key finding of the study is that the Strengths for the Journey intervention seems to be quite effective,” researchers concluded.

“Our results suggest that short, inexpensive positive psychology interventions such as Strengths for the Journey can lead to real improvements in refugee children’s mental health and wellbeing, even when those children are experiencing the many challenges of living in a refugee camp.”

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