Refugee Mothers' Experiences of Forced Migration and its Impact upon Family Life
Kelly, Aisling Catherine Frances
In line with dominant Western discourses regarding mental health, research concerning the wellbeing of forced migrants has tended to take an individualistic, symptom-focused approach. Although not without value and utility, it is argued that this narrow focus has the potential to obscure other important experiences, processes and perspectives relating to forced migration, such as considering how refugees make sense of and respond to their experiences at individual and familial levels. For example, there is no known qualitative research within the UK – and little internationally – which explores how the experience of forced migration impacts upon individual and family wellbeing, from the perspective of parents. Hence the aim of this study was to widen the narrow focus regarding refugee wellbeing. A qualitative approach was adopted, with semi-structured interviews exploring the experience of fleeing home and its impact upon family life in the UK for six refugee mothers. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was selected as a suitable approach to data analysis. Three master themes emerged across participant data, namely: Loss as a constant companion to parenting; A shifting view of the self as a mother, and Taking the good with the bad in family life. A rich account of these master themes and corresponding subthemes is provided. Findings are discussed in relation to existing literature, alongside implications for clinical psychological research and practice, methodological considerations and suggestions for future research.