Post-Migration Experiences and Mental Health of Cambodian Refugees in Long Beach, CA. - A Generation of Silence – Case Study

Dokumentart: Diplomarbeit, Magisterarbeit, Master Thesis
Institut: Department Gesundheitswissenschaften
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2018
SWD-Schlagwörter: Migration , Kambodscha , Kambodschaner , Kambodschanerin , Flüchtling , Weiblicher Flüchtling , Psychische Gesundheit , Wohlbefinden , California Stat
DDC-Sachgruppe: Medizin, Gesundheit

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Background: Cambodian refugees experienced one of the most savage regimes within the twentieth century. Therefore, they were seeking shelter in the United States. Around 158,000 of Cambodian refugees gained entry and resettled. Many of them settled in the Long beach area of Southern California, which is known to have the largest Cambodian population outside of Cambodia. As survivors of the Khmer Rouge Regime, Cambodian refugees were exposed to traumatic experiences. The Cambodian community continued to deal with various stressors like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression as well as other conditions. Research studies have shown that traumatic experiences during pre-migration is predicting the mental health adversely. However, during the post-migration in the new environment of the host country, the refugees are facing a lot of challenges that are causing distress and impacting their mental health. Within the Cambodian community in Long Beach, there is still a lack of research regarding their post-migration experiences related to mental health. Purpose: The research study aims to explore the experiences of Cambodian Refugees in the post-migration time in Long Beach. The study provides information about experienced challenges, barriers, as well as resources and how those are associated with the mental health of the Cambodian community members. Method: A qualitative case study design with face-to-face interviews and observations was conducted. The data was collected within two-time periods: In the first time phase, during October 2016 until March 2017, ten interviews were conducted. The participants were five experts of the subject matter and five subjects who were Cambodian Americans or former refugees from Long Beach. In the second phase, four follow-up interviews were conducted with subjects. Overall, three observations in the community of cultural events or field visits were conducted. Results: Five main categories and 17 sub-categories associated with post-migration experiences related to the mental health of Cambodian community members were developed. Major challenges within the post-migration that caused distress included the adjustment to the environment of the United States, language barriers, low education levels, cultural differences, and employment searching. Additionally, living in a low-income area, facing crime, being impoverished, being stigmatized, as well as having to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder were apparent factors that contributed to deterioration of mental health. Resources for Cambodian refugees were primarily the family and the Cambodian community. Gardening and the Buddhist religion played crucial roles particularly for the elder generations of Cambodians. Those were aspects in coping with mental distress or PTSD. Another resource that Cambodian refugees relied on heavily was governmental assistance, which helped them in surviving in the United States. However, it had its limitations. The participants experienced a lack of resources, in terms of accessing language programs and transitional resources to overcome adjustment barriers. Furthermore, resources and approaches for mental health are still inadequate. Many participants reported barriers such as cultural differences, stigma and missing knowledge by reaching out for health service. However, successful strategies in providing health services in the community could be revealed. The acceptance of services included educating Cambodians about available resources, providing interventions related to their culture, eliminating stigma, identifying needs and demands in a participatory approach, networking among service providers and health professionals, and hiring staff from the community in order to overcome mistrust and cultural differences. The 2. generation of Cambodian Americans experienced challenges in finding cultural connection through family. Due to language barriers within the family and the continued silence from the 1. generation about their history, difficulties were created for the 2. generation. However, they find connection to the Khmer culture through the Cambodian Student Society, which is a club on campus at California State University, Long Beach. The Cambodian Student Society holds regular meetings in which they learn about culture and history as well as provide opportunities in connecting with peers. Furthermore, the club is engaged in the Cambodian community, constantly networking, volunteering, and connecting. Conclusion: The research study explored the complexity of post-migration. Several challenges, barriers, and resources that are associated with mental health could be revealed. The results provide approaches for further research and adapted service in the Cambodian community.

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