24th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development

July 10-14, 2016 | Vilnius, Lithuania

Brit Oppedal

Promoting Well-being and Successful Integration among Refugees

The current humanitarian crisis in Europe involving hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and refugees, of which about 23 % are unaccompanied minors, calls for new efforts in handling the challenges that the refugees and the receiving local communities are faced with. If European and other refugee receiving countries succeed in creating contexts that promote the well-being and incorporation of the refugees into the mainstream society, the refugees may become an important force in the economies of receiving societies in the next decades. 

The overall aim of this symposium is to present knowledge based information about the well-being and successful integration of refugees. We focus on the present, the future, and the past, and address the refugee’ needs at the time of arrival, their future aspirations and over time adaptation, and the pre-migration trauma. The information is provided by individuals with refugee backgrounds and a variety of nationalities and experiences, from the child’s, the family’s, and the receiving community’s perspective. 

In the first presentation Robinson focuses on the immediate needs of recently arrived asylum-seekers and refugees (humanitarian migrants). Based on interviews with around 2400 individuals and families who had just been granted a humanitarian visa, Robinson discusses factors that may help or hinder their successful settlement, and assist in improving policy development and program delivery. Oppedal uses longitudinal information from 948 youth who arrived in Norway as unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers, were granted residence, and have been resettled in Norway on average 2.5 years. Oppedal presents findings on factors predicting stability and change in mental health and sociocultural adaptation among these vulnerable children and adolescents. E. Montgomery discusses the prevalence and association of pre-flight war-related trauma and post-resettlement family violence, and presents a holistic clinical intervention model that has been developed to assist the members in these families, especially the children. The final presentation addresses refugee receiving communities, and discusses contextual factors that can impede or facilitate successful integration and adaptation of refugees.

Together the four presentations provide knowledge about community and individual factors that may support the refugees in overcoming their challenging past and that may capitalize on their resources in the service of the receiving societies.  


Convenor: Brit Oppedal


1. Julie A. Robinson, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Flinders University, Australia

2. Brit Oppedal, Senior researcher, Department of Child Development, Norwegian Institute of Public Health

3. Edith Montgomery, Senior researcher, DIGNITY, Danish Institute Against Torture

4. Jody Lynn McBrien, Ph.D., Ian Axford (NZ) Fellow in Public Policy MBIE/Immigration New Zealand, Associate Professor, College of Education
University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee