Resilience, faith, and social supports among migrants and refugees from Central America and Mexico

US-Mexico border image thanks to Reuters.

US-Mexico border image thanks to Reuters.

This article is written by Social Justice team member Mark Lusk and several others in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.

Migrants flee violence, extortion, assault and kidnapping in Central America and Mexico to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. – Mexico border. They experience trauma and adversity at each stage of the journey – prior to departure, enroute, and upon arrival at the border. This mixed methods research project examines protective factors that mediate trauma and support quality of life among migrants. Despite high levels of post-traumatic stress, migrants score high on measures of resilience and quality of life. Participants expressed high levels of religiosity and utilize faith as a coping strategy to lend meaning to their hardship and suffering.

Migration through and from Mexico to the U.S. – Mexico border region is fraught with risks to personal safety, mental health, and well-being. Circumstances in the countries of origin, such as widespread violence, criminal activity, and socio-political instability, have led many thousands of individuals and families to make the difficult decision to leave their homes and undertake a dangerous journey toward what they believe to be a safer place because they feel that they have no alternative. Upon arrival to the border region the difficulties often persist as they may be met with unemployment, immigration detention, discrimination or deportation. As a result, many migrants are exposed to traumatic experiences including assault, kidnapping, sexual violence, human trafficking, and extortion. Despite exposure to great adversity, forced migrants display remarkable resilience, strong connections to migrant networks, and are strengthened by deeply held personal faith (Flores-Yeffal, 2013Flores-Yeffal, N. Y. (2013).  Continue reading