Coping with Stressors by Drawing on Social Supports: The Experiences of Adolescent Syrian Refugees in Canada


  • Zoha Salam McMaster University
  • Amy Gajaria University of Toronto
  • Olive Wahoush McMaster University
  • Elysee Nouvet Western University



refugee, youth, coping


This study explores how teenage Syrian refugees use their social networks to cope with stressors. Through interviews with nine youth aged 16 to 18 living in Ontario, Canada, stressors related to pre- and post-migration emerged. Family, peers, school staff, and organizations were identified as social networks, each having unique reasons why they were selected. Coping was categorized as individualistic or collectivistic. Teenage Syrian refugees draw upon social resources to navigate situations they are faced with, and cultural values influence the stress and coping process. Findings have implications for mental health care providers and policy-makers focused on migrant resettlement.


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Author Biographies

Zoha Salam, McMaster University

Zoha Salam is a PhD candidate in Global Health at McMaster University. She can be reached at

Amy Gajaria, University of Toronto

Dr. Amy Gajaria is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto. She can be reached at

Olive Wahoush, McMaster University

Dr. Olive Wahoush is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at McMaster University. She can be reached at

Elysee Nouvet, Western University

Dr. Elysee Nouvet is an Associate Professor in the School of Health Studies at Western University. She can be reached at


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How to Cite

Salam, Z., Gajaria, A., Wahoush, O., & Nouvet, E. (2022). Coping with Stressors by Drawing on Social Supports: The Experiences of Adolescent Syrian Refugees in Canada. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 38(2), 1–17.

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