Today, 30th January 2020, AkiDwA has launched our new report, Let’s Talk: Mental Health Experiences of Migrant Women. Report researcher and author, Anne Carpenter held focus group discussions and conversations with women in 2019, and the report captures the lived mental health experiences of women under the Refugee Resettlement Programme and women living in Direct Provision.
The research reveals that many migrant women struggle with the loss of agency and autonomy that comes with the asylum system and live in Ireland. The research found that migrant women experienced significant stressors that have serious implications for their mental health and psychological well-being, it found personal distress was experienced on a daily basis and was inseparable from social, political, and institutional processes Findings show that the women’s lives were characterised by stressors related to mainly three factors – practical challenges faced daily by migrant women, powerlessness and lack of agency and grief and loss. Migrant women face many stresses in their home countries, on their journeys to Ireland, and in their daily life on arrival. Speaking about the report Salome Mbugua, Head of Operations & Strategy at AkiDwA said “many migrant women in Ireland are struggling with their mental health resulting from the impact of immigration journey, the intersections between gender, migration and health. Quite often, this intersectionality is missed by policy makers and frontline services. This must be recognised when working with migrant women if we are to help them recover fully.”
The report also shows that despite the traumatic and stressful events which may occur, mental health problems are not an inevitable consequence, but instead, well-being is shaped by a complex balance of stress and resilience factors. Many women struggle with the loss of agency and autonomy that comes with the asylum system in Ireland. Further, the women must deal with the loss and grief of losing their families and countries. As women, many of our participants reported taking on the stress and concern of their families who they can also see to be struggling. Research participants expressed feeling of vulnerability and had this to say “It’s hard to speak up because if you speak up then you feel like you are vulnerable or you are weak that you don’t know what you are doing, like you are not a woman, like a woman should be able to handle everything. Being a mother, being a wife, being a friend and a supporter.”
The report identifies important structural and social factors which can improve mental health outcomes for migrant women and includes recommendations which will be useful for the work of public health professionals, the voluntary sector and policymakers.
The report was launched on 30th January at 10am at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission with a discussion on mental health. The event will included presentation of the key findings of the report by author, Anne Carpenter and panel discussions with representatives from Mental Health Reform, Cairde, National Women’s Council of Ireland and practising clinicians.