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Identity and trauma in migration: the challenges and opportunities of psychosocial support and integration of persons under the international protection in Croatia

The question of identity is important for almost all social sciences who have tried to explain, clearly categorize and study it over the years. The field of identity has attracted the attention of social scientists throughout history, however, the issue of identity in migration and related research has become popular in the past ten years. The concept of identity is already complex enough, but when we add to the research the variable of forced migration (especially to a society of another culture, religious affiliation, value system and language), it can have serious consequences for the individual. In the context of identity analysis in forced migration and refugeedom, trauma is an inevitable category, since it is the most common result of experiencing specific migration situations and all that they carry. The trauma most often affects the identity (or the process of identity formation) and the stable life of an individual. In that context, it is important to analyse the opportunities for mental health preservation for those individuals who experienced traumatic events before or during the migration and have difficulties with integration into Croatian society as well as preserving the stable identity in the new culture. Therefore, in this article we intend to highlight the difficulties that an individual meets in preserving their stable identity in migration and critically examine the challenges and opportunities of the new concept of community psychiatry in Croatia for the persons under the international protection. The main idea behind such a concept is to assist the individuals with mental difficulties outside the institution with the aim of a more successful and thorough recovery. Thus, such assistance is provided in collaboration with experts from different fields, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers as well as persons who have had the experience in psychiatry clinics, with a purpose of looking at problems from different contexts. Although there are many measures and campaigns in Croatia that try to destigmatize mentally ill, refugees or both, there is still room for improvement. Therefore, by the critical theory, basic research and existing databases we will examine and present the importance of the trauma for a stable identity during migration and existing mental health and integration opportunities for people under the international protection in the Croatian society.

Karla Žagi
Catholic University of Croatia
Croatia

Maja Odorjan
Croatian Institute of Public Health
Croatia

 


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