The Lang Opportunity Award allowed me to understand the mental health needs and psychosocial support needed for refugees in Jordan. Since March 2011, nearly half the population of Syria has been displaced, comprising almost eight million people inside Syria and more than four million registered refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. Given the scale and protracted nature of the Refugee crisis, countries of asylum, like Jordan, face difficulties in responding to the needs of refugees from Syria. I learned it is common for refugees struggling with integration into a host community, or living in a camp in a new country to complain of mental health issues, however when investigated further these symptoms are more commonly related to the poor living conditions in the countries of refuge. It has been suggested that daily stressors such as poverty, inadequate medical care, marginalization, and lack of basic resources such as food or shelter rather than war related experiences may explain a substantial part of the variance in mental health symptoms in contexts of ongoing violence. I saw that in the cases of refugees, when they are living in terrible conditions, unsure about the safety of their family, without opportunities to strive for a better future by putting their children in a safe school or working and making an income, the environment is inhospitable to positive/healthy coping mechanisms. The high cost of rent, inability to work in Jordan, a poor public schools, and no opportunities to control their lives or futures, refugees have felt the impact of this protracted crisis at their core. As conditions in Syria change everyday, it’s hard to imagine a future where returning to normalcy in their homeland is possible, for that reason social cohesion is crucial in the social support needed as a part of psychosocial support.
During my time In Jordan I had an internship and Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI-Jo), there I learned about the legal systems in place to support or protect Jordanian and Refugee women in Jordan for their psychosocial support and protection. This was a great opportunity to learn about humanitarian aid that is available and the gaps. I am so grateful for this opportunity!