Psychosocial ICT: The Potential, Challenges and Benefits of Self-help Tools for Refugees with Negative Mental Stress
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has penetrated almost all areas of life today and has the potential to create positive change. This paper addresses the opportunities offered by ICT for improving the resilience and psychosocial well-being of refugees who have experienced mentally stressful events when forced to leave their home country and seek shelter in a different host country. We want to distinguish between perceived stress and clinically-defined trauma, for which therapeutic interventions require direct personal contact with psychological experts. However, we also want to focus on the digital possibilities that currently exist to support establishing this kind of personal connection. Many refugees need to seek psychological help, but social, economic and cultural barriers hold them back. Our qualitative study with refugees, psychologists and volunteers provides insights into how refugees deal with their mental issues and the challenges they face in everyday life. We aim to show that ICT can play a major role in terms of addressing awareness and self-empowerment as an entry point for this vulnerable group. We also discuss the potential challenges and benefits of ICT for refugees seeking to recover their mental stability.