Affiliated member of the WPA – World Psychiatric Association

Abstract Machleidt, Wielant

Key Lecture
The Impact of War and Aggression on Migrants Social Wellbeing and Mental Health

When we summarize the research on migration and mental health over the past 20 years we can conclude: The mental health status of migrants is a function of positive social support and/or destructive aggressive factors respectively. In fact it is so that social conditions and risk constellations that accompany migration are pivotal for the increase of mental disorders among migrants and their descendants. Such factors might include experiences of discrimination, social exclusion and uncertain residential status. Particularly traumatic life experiences among refugees, have a significant impact on their mental health. Contextual factors such as hostility towards foreigners, and racism were identified as being causal for the higher rate of emotional distress with depressive and anxiety symptoms. We assume that migration is a critical life event with subsequently a change of identity – as a kind of “cultural adolescence”. This development temporarily correlates with a heightened psychological vulnerability. During this adjustment/individuation process migrants need protection against destructive aggressive interventions from whichever side to cope with acculturation and integration by developing a constructive aggressive enforcement behavior.

Prof. Dr., Centre of Mental Health
Department of Psychiatry,
Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Medical School of Hannover
Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1
30625 Hannover


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