Mental Health and Wellbeing Impacts of Societal Attitudes Towards Forcibly Displaced Young People

A Scoping Review Protocol

Keywords: refugees, displaced people, youth, mental health, wellbeing, attitudes, scoping review protocol


Background: In less time than it takes to read this sentence, someone somewhere in the world will be forcibly displaced. With exponential increases in displacement likely to continue, research into the resettlement experiences and mental health of forcibly displaced people is essential. There is an abundance of research pertaining to the mental health and wellbeing of refugee populations and research that investigates societal attitudes towards refugees. However, there is a little research on the direct impacts of societal attitudes on the mental health and wellbeing of those from a refugee-like background, particularly young people.

Method: This scoping review seeks to systematically explore the academic and grey literature around both positive and negative societal attitudes in host countries, and the subsequent positive and negative impacts on young people from a refugee-like background. The search strategy consists of synonyms for the four basic constructs (youth, displaced people, mental health, attitudes). Six scholarly databases and grey literature will be searched. To be included in the Review, papers must study the affective component of attitudes in host countries, as well as reporting on the mental health impacts on young people from a refugee-like background. Findings will be thematically analysed using NVivo and presented in the full Scoping Review.

Author Biographies

Natasha Harding, university of Newcastle

Natasha is a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle, NSW. She has worked in community mental health for 12 years in various roles, from front line service delivery, team management, research and evaluation.

Lynne McCormack, University of Newcastle

Associate Professor Lynne McCormack is both an academic and clinical supervisor at the University of Newcastle, and Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham UK whose research is at the interface of complex trauma and posttraumatic growth. Her clinical work in the aftermath of complex traumatic events has spanned three decades directed by historical events such as the Vietnam War and the Rwandan genocide on the one hand, and the emergence of positive psychology for recovery, on the other. The privilege of walking as a therapist, alongside those who have experienced war or genocide, been held hostage, lost their identity as refugees, been brutalised as children or suffered interpersonal violence, underpins her research. By witnessing the metamorphic struggle to rebuild shattered lives following exposure to complex traumatic events, her research has led to greater than 50 publications exploring the interface of complex trauma and posttraumatic growth.  Primarily, through qualitative research, she seeks to give voice to the individual narratives of healing from psychological trauma recognising that each of us is the ‘expert’ in our own lives. With Professor Stephen Joseph, she is preparing a clinician workbook for posttraumatic growth. 

As a psychosocial delegate for the Australian Red Cross Lynne has deployed to international and national crises including the summer of 2019/2020 bushfires. She values her role as a mentor  and supervisor of students, and providing community support for those working at the coalface of caring for others as they provide safe psychological environments for their clients including children rescued from human trafficking and cyber abuse.  Her greatest passion is promoting healthy parent/child attachments free of transgenerational abuse and violence, allowing children to grow into respectful adults skilled at problem solving, debating, and critically exchanging ideas with curiosity and respect for others’ views. 

Sally Fitzpatrick, Everymind

Dr Sally Fitzpatrick joined Everymind in January 2018. She is a developmental and clinical psychologist who is passionate about understanding the factors that contribute to the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians. She is particularly passionate about translating this knowledge into evidence-based programs that focus on children and families.

Sally holds a BA (Welfare), BA Psychology (Hons), Master of Clinical Psychology, and a PhD. She is also an Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow with Macquarie University. Sally has most recently worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University. As an academic researcher, Sally managed a large multi-site, randomised control trial of two anti-bullying programs in 135 Australian primary schools, taught undergraduate and postgraduate psychology, presented her research at both national and international conferences, and supervised research staff and students.

In addition to conducting research, Sally has worked as a Clinical Psychologist since 2008. Prior to this, she worked in the statutory child protection sector for more than ten years as a child protection worker, trainer, and project manager. Sally’s education and work history combine to highlight her commitment to advocating for the mental health and wellbeing of youth and their families through both research and clinical practice.

Study Protocols