Development and evaluation of a school-based prevention program to strengthen the resilience of refugee children

In order to prevent the development of psychological disorders in children with migration experience, a school-based intervention will be designed aiming at promoting the resilience of these children while improving their psychological well-being.

Sponsor: Hans Böckler Foundation

Duration: 36 months (2017/08 – 2020/07)

Keywords: universal intervention, children with migration experience, resilience, prevention, school

Project description:

About one third of the refugees that have come to Germany over the past few years are children and adolescents. A considerable amount of these suffer from increased psycho-social strain and clinically significant symptomatology. The psycho-social distress of refugee children can sometimes impede their ability to cope with the daily life at school. Additionally, these children’s ways of expressing their internal emotional conflicts can lead their peers and teachers to feel helpless, frustrated and overwhelmed.

The school environment can offer distressed children easy and non-stigmatising access to interventions for promoting mental health. This project will develop a school-based intervention aimed at strengthening the resilience of these children as well as of the entire class, thereby preventing the emergence or chronification of psychological disorders.

The development of the intervention is composed of the following subprojects:

1) Conducting and analyzing an international systematic review to evaluate interventions that strengthen the resilience of school children who are refugees or migrants.

2) Conducting and evaluating a needs assessment. Semi-structured interviews will be held with teachers, students, refugee children and experts to deduce the specific requirements and needs for a school-based intervention. Depending on the saturation level, 6 – 12 interviews per group will be performed.

3) Based on the results of the systematic review and the needs assessment, an intervention will be devised which promotes the resilience of school classes with refugee and migrant children. The intervention will be put into practice at participating primary schools in Hamburg. It will be tested whether the condition of the psychologically distressed children has improved as a result of the intervention. Prerequisites to participate in the study are, that the children have an adequate command of German to follow lessons in school and that classes are heterogeneous, consisting of German children and children who are refugees or migrants.

Team members:

Mike Mösko, Dr. phil., Dipl.-Psych.,

Sanna Higgen, Psychologin, M.A.,