Mental Health and Resilience of Young African Women Refugees in an Urban Context (Abidjan—Ivory Coast and Dakar—Senegal)

Introduction: This chapter explores the mental health and resilience of young women refugees in an urban context in Africa. We studied this topic within our research regarding “young African refugees in urban context: psychosocial, identity and resilience: Comparative research between Africa (Abidjan, Ivory-Coast, and Dakar-Senegal) and Europe (Geneva, Switzerland)”

The research was conducted from 2011 to 2013 and supported by a grant from The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria—Dakar) and The Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences for the financial support (Switzerland). Principal investigators are Théogène-octave Gakuba in Geneva, Mohamadaou Sall in Dakar, and Gilbert Fokou in Abidjan. Kouakou Christiane was research assistant in Abidjan. This research is not yet published).

Main Body: A review of literature, study methodology, and results is presented. The African sample consisted of 123 young people aged 18–30 years. To gather and analyse the data, we employed qualitative methods (semi-structured interviews with young refugees as well as with the healthcare professionals and social workers) and quantitative methods (physical and mental health questionnaires). The results indicate that a number of the young refugee women have mental health problems. These problems are related to their pre-migration experiences in their country of origin and the post-migration conditions they experience in the host country. More specifically, these problems are linked to poverty, problems of cultural adaptation, family separation, and sexual abuse. Some women have constant anxiety and psychological problems characterised by fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, and stomach pains.

Discussion: Most refugee women in Dakar and Abidjan are in a vulnerable situation, creating a negative impact on their mental health. They also have problems accessing health care.

Implications: We include recommendations for promoting integration of woman refugees in Dakar and Abidjan. Those programmes are of crucial importance within the integration process.

Full article by Advances in Mental Health and Addiction via SpringerLink.

Photo credit: European Commission DG ECHO


Publication Type Series Chapter
Publisher Springer
Year 2015
Author(s) Théogène-Octave Gakuba , Mohamadou Sall, Gilbert Fokou, Christiane Kouakou, Martin Amalaman & Solange Kone
Other Numbers Chpt.13, p. 185-200
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