Migration experience, resilience and psychological outcomes: an exploratory study of Iranian immigrants in Australia
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2016 Dr. Ashrafalsadat Hosseini
Migration is often a challenging and life changing experience. The challenges of migration can provide opportunities for growth and resilience and can also adversely influence mental health and well-being. To explore these issues as they apply to Iranians who migrated to Australia, this study investigated resilience and the psychological outcomes of subjective well-being and psychological problems among Iranian immigrants living in Australia. A mixed methods design was employed. In the first part of this study, quantitative data were collected through an online questionnaire that included questions from the Migration and Settlement Questionnaire (MASQ), the Resilience Scale for Adults (RSA), the Personal Well-being Index (PWI), and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21). The online survey was completed by 182 Iranian immigrants living in Australia. The second part of the study was a qualitative analysis, engaging individuals, who completed the questionnaire and were invited to participate in semi- structured interviews to complement the findings of the questionnaire. The quantitative findings of this study indicate lower levels of subjective well-being and higher levels of all the psychological problems explored here (psychological distress, depression, anxiety and stress). These were present in participants who were unemployed, had an incomplete tertiary education, or those who had lived in Australia for less than 5 years, and were younger and unmarried (p < 0.05). Higher levels of depression were found in participants who had experienced high levels of discrimination (p < 0.05). Lower levels of well-being and higher levels of anxiety were found in refugee participants (p < 0.05). Higher levels of well-being were reported by participants who had a proficient user of the English language. The incidence of these difficulties was as follows: depression (26%), anxiety (32%) and stress (25%). The quantitative findings have shown that resilience mediated the association between personal well-being and migration category, as well as marital status. It partially mediated the association between satisfaction with life as a whole and migration category. This study also suggests that resilience mediated the association between discrimination and depression. It partially mediated the association between marital status and the level of education, and psychological distress, anxiety or depression. Resilience also partially mediated the association between migration and anxiety. In addition, the quantitative findings of this study have shown that the resilience domains of personal and social competencies were the strongest predictors of PWI, psychological distress, depression or stress. Personal competency was the only key predictor of anxiety and satisfaction with life as a whole. An analysis of the qualitative results revealed two main themes that could be described as integration risk and integration protective, which contribute to well-being for Iranian immigrants in Australia. Integration risk factors that were linked to lower levels of well-being were common difficult emotions - grief of separation, social isolation, loneliness and acculturative stress. Other factors associated with being a refugee, pre-migration trauma and negative experiences in detention centres, unpleasant post-migration experience, the Australian English accent, extent of the difference between Australian and Iranian social and cultural norms, and the lack of knowledge about Australian laws and rights. Other themes include shorter duration in Australia; unemployment, underemployment and social and emotional concerns about limited work opportunities; having high educational qualifications at the time of migration; having started but not completed tertiary education; experiences of discrimination; a lack of knowledge about Iran and Iranian culture in Australia; family issues (e.g., conflict between parents and children); tensions over Iranian cultural practices (e.g., controversy surrounding the wearing of the Hijab); and internal community conflict (e.g., the issue of trust) were also associated with lower levels of well-being. Several protective factors were identified to reduce migration related distress and maintain Iranian immigrants’ well-being and to assist them with the process of adapting to life in Australia. These factors were positive personality traits, that is, spirituality, a sense of humour, personal competency and self-coping strategies; and supportive integration themes of English proficiency, access to an interpreter, a longer duration in Australia, understanding Australian culture, having a positive pre-migration view of Australia, experience of higher levels of gender equality, a general feeling of greater post-migration freedom, and multicultural experiences. In addition, other factors - of being married, higher education; meaningful employment; access to social and family support and strong social networks; engaging in Iranian cultural practices (e.g., celebrating Iranian national holidays) and being proud of their Iranian nationality were associated with higher levels of well-being. There were also some themes which seem to be a risk factor for some participants while served as a protective factor for others, for example, the level of education at the time of migration. This study has limitations that must be considered when interpreting the results. Findings of this study highlight the need for policy and program interventions to prevent and reduce psychological problems and suggest several possible approaches to promote the well-being of immigrants. These include improving employment opportunities, reducing discrimination, approaches that minimise the stress of the settlement process, and interventions that aim to strengthen resilience. This study thus highlights the need for further research to assess whether interventions that strengthen resilience can reduce psychological problems and promote the well-being of Iranians as well as other immigrant communities living in Australia.
Keywordsresilience; psychological outcomes; mental health; migration
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References