Charles Watters – Refugees and Mental Health

“I think having a capability approach towards refugees which acknowledges agency and aspiration while at the same time provides the mental health and social care support they need is the way forward”

Charles Watters, Chair of the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, talks about his work with refugees. In order to access refugee services and programs, the negative aspects of the refugee experience are often emphasized: refugees are characterized as traumatized people who had to flee for safety, torn from their home country. Indeed, there can be a pressure for refugees to emphasize suffering in their encounters with service providers in order to be considered legitimate. But what is the mental health effect of this? Is it possible to promote empowerment and aspirations within the refugee population without refugees being wrongly considered an economic migrants?



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