Research article

Experiences of wellbeing and resilience among refugee mothers and families in Calgary during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the role of participation in HIPPY, a home visiting program

  • Received: 16 February 2022 Revised: 12 May 2022 Accepted: 20 May 2022 Published: 13 June 2022
  • In order to provide meaningful and effective support to refugees in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during post-pandemic recovery efforts, it is critical to explore the experiences of refugee mothers and families during the pandemic, and to identify sources of resilience that can be leveraged to promote individual and household wellbeing. From November 2020 to June 2021, we conducted in-depth interviews with mothers from refugee backgrounds (n = 28) who resettled in Calgary, Alberta and are currently participating in the Multicultural Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. Interviews were conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams; we sought to better understand the pathways and barriers to wellbeing experienced by refugee mothers during the pandemic. The results indicate that the refugee mothers and families in our study experienced widespread disruptions to education and employment and increased motherhood burden, contributing to diminished wellbeing. Mental health was further impacted by heightened levels of worry, stress and social isolation, as well as intense fear pertaining to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Some mothers reported experiencing barriers to accessing healthcare services and reliable health information during the pandemic. In the face of these challenges, the mothers demonstrated great resilience and identified tangible individual, household and extra-household factors and resources that supported them in coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, our findings suggest that participation in HIPPY played a significant role in fostering the resilience of the participating mothers and families during the pandemic, speaking to the potential of home visiting intervention models in mitigating household hardship during current and future public health crises.

    Citation: Chloe Zivot, Cate Dewey, Meghan Brockington, Chioma Nwebube, Ghaid Asfour, Natasha Vattikonda, Debbie Bell, Sharada Srinivasan, Matthew Little. Experiences of wellbeing and resilience among refugee mothers and families in Calgary during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the role of participation in HIPPY, a home visiting program[J]. AIMS Public Health, 2022, 9(3): 521-541. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2022036

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  • In order to provide meaningful and effective support to refugees in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during post-pandemic recovery efforts, it is critical to explore the experiences of refugee mothers and families during the pandemic, and to identify sources of resilience that can be leveraged to promote individual and household wellbeing. From November 2020 to June 2021, we conducted in-depth interviews with mothers from refugee backgrounds (n = 28) who resettled in Calgary, Alberta and are currently participating in the Multicultural Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. Interviews were conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams; we sought to better understand the pathways and barriers to wellbeing experienced by refugee mothers during the pandemic. The results indicate that the refugee mothers and families in our study experienced widespread disruptions to education and employment and increased motherhood burden, contributing to diminished wellbeing. Mental health was further impacted by heightened levels of worry, stress and social isolation, as well as intense fear pertaining to the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Some mothers reported experiencing barriers to accessing healthcare services and reliable health information during the pandemic. In the face of these challenges, the mothers demonstrated great resilience and identified tangible individual, household and extra-household factors and resources that supported them in coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, our findings suggest that participation in HIPPY played a significant role in fostering the resilience of the participating mothers and families during the pandemic, speaking to the potential of home visiting intervention models in mitigating household hardship during current and future public health crises.



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    Acknowledgments



    This study was supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council through a COVID-19 Partnership Engage Grant (no. 1008–2020–0163).

    Conflict of interest



    Home Visitors, facilitators of the HIPPY program, were present at data collection activities for this study in their role as community researchers. Data collection activities occurred during the same period in which the refugee mothers in our study population were participating in the HIPPY program and receiving services through CIWA.

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