Study of Adolescent Lives after Migration (SALaM) Ireland

Since 2015, the world has witnessed the worst refugee crisis with unprecedented numbers seeking refuge across the globe. Over half of the world’s refugees are children.

The ‘SALaM Ireland’ study is a collaborative school-based project being conducted as part of a larger programme of research called ‘SALaMA’ (Study of Adolescent Lives after Migration to America), which is led by Washington University, St Louis (USA) (Principal Investigator, Professor Lindsay Stark) in partnership with Qatar Foundation International (QFI) (

The SALaM Ireland study is led by Professor Sinead McGilloway (MU) with senior co-investigators, Dr Rita Sakr (MU Department of English) and Dr Anthony Malone (MU Department of Education). All SALaM Ireland team members are listed below.

Study Aims

To assess the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of post-primary school students (aged 13-18 years) resettled to Ireland from Arab-majority countries

To identify and explore the sources of daily stress in these students’ lives and the corresponding support mechanisms available to them.

For more information on how to take part in the study, please click on the following link: SALaM flyer

What will the research involve?

This is a large mixed methods study, being undertaken in the US and Ireland and involving: (a) a series of national surveys in which we assess student health and wellbeing, as well as their experiences at school, home and the wider community; (b) focus group discussions with students; and (c) interviews with key stakeholders (e.g. parents/guardians, educators, mental health professionals, resettlement agencies and community organisations) to explore how they are supporting these students and trying to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

International Partners

Impact of the research

This ambitious programme of research will generate one of the first and most extensive data sets on the wellbeing of Arabic-speaking newcomer students – a growing subgroup in high-income countries. This is also the first study of its kind to investigate the mental health and wellbeing of young Arab-speaking immigrants.

The study findings will provide important insights into the experiences and needs of these young people and the nature and extent of any stress which they may be experiencing in their daily lives, both in school and the wider community. The study will also illuminate ways in which schools and communities support these students as they adapt to life outside their country of origin. Collectively, the results will help to inform practices and policies to better support this population in America, Ireland and possibly elsewhere in the world.

The SALaM Ireland Project Team

The team comprises an interdisciplinary mix of academics with expertise and research interests in mental health, community and health psychology, migrant and refugee health and wellbeing, migrant and refugee literature and film (including Arab literature), education and anthropology.

Professor Sinead McGilloway
Principal Investigator
Yvonne Leckey
Project Manager
Dr Rita Sakr
Senior Co-investigator and Cultural Advisor
Dr Anthony Malone
Senior Co-investigator and Schools Advisor
Jack Horgan
MSc student and fieldworker
Siobhan O’Connor
Communications/Knowledge Translation Lead and fieldworker
Eman Abusalameh
Cultural Broker/Interpreter

The Washington University (St Louis) SALaMA Team

Dr. Lindsay Stark
SALaMA Principal Investigator

Associate Professor of Social Work and Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Carine Allaf
SALaMA Co-Principal Investigator

Senior Programs Advisor, Qatar Foundation International

Dr. Michael Wessells
SALaMA Co-Investigator

Professor of Clinical Population and Family Health, Columbia University

Ilana Seff

Staff Scientist, Washington University in St. Louis

Cyril Bennouna

Consultant, Washington University in St. Louis

Caitlin Ashby

Research Manager, Washington University inSt. Louis

Recent News/Updates

SALaM Ireland Study featured in Maynooth University’s World Refugee Day celebration on June 20th 2021. The SALaM Ireland team also developed a series of videos to provide some brief insights into the experiences of teachers and practitioners working with refugee youths in Ireland as well as some videos of young Syrian pupils from Dungarvan College in Waterford.

Relevant articles

Leckey, Y., McGilloway, S., &  Sakr, R.(2021).Investigating the mental health and wellbeing of young Arabic speaking adolescents who have migrated to Ireland from conflict affected countries. Irish Network for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, 18 December.

(2020, December). Crusade Against Covid. The Bridge Maynooth Alumni Magazine 2020, pp. 8. Retrieved from:


Gandarilla Ocampo, M., Bennouna, C., Seff, I., Wessells, M., Robinson, M., Allaf, C., & Stark, L. We are here for our kids: Parental involvement in refugee adolescents’ educational endeavors in America. Journal of Refugee Studies, (in press).
Gialama, M. and McGilloway, S. “More alike than  unalike?”: A personal reflection on working to support the mental health and wellbeing of  unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece. Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas. (In press). 
Gialama, M. and McGilloway, S.  (2020) Surviving in the present, thriving in the future? Meeting the psychosocial needs of refugee children/young people during Covid-19. The Psychologist (online)29th May.

Stark, L., Seff, I., Cohen, F., Aldrich, J., & Allaf, C. (2020). Stressful life events and their unique associations with psychosocial outcomes: A gendered analysis among high school adolescents. Global Social Welfare, online first.

Bennouna, C., Ocampo, M., Cohen, F., Basir, M., Allaf, C., Wessells, M., & Stark, L. (2019). Ecologies of care: Mental health and psychosocial support for war-affected youth in the U.S. Conflict and Health13(1):47.

Bennouna, C., Basir, M., Khauli, N., Allaf, C., Wessells, M., & Stark, L. (2019). School-based programs for supporting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of conflict-affected adolescents resettled in high-income countries: A scoping review. Social Science & Medicine239.

Gialama, M. and McGilloway, S. (2019). Building psychological resilience and promoting post-traumatic growth in refugee children post-migration: A practitioner perspective.  Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society (NI Branch): Building Better Psychological Futures, Belfast (p.19)

Gialama, M. and McGilloway, S. (2018). Addressing the mental health needs of vulnerable children.  RTE Brainstorm, 20 November.