Five teens in a row, chins resting in hands

The WUN international youth resilience study (2014-)

Promoting optimal mental health and resilience to trauma, adversity and stress is a prominent national and global priority. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to stressors as they are undergoing the final stages of development and are therefore highly susceptible to the impacts of their environment.

This project, the WUN (Worldwide University Network) International Youth Resilience Study, was led by Dr Justine Gatt in collaboration with other global experts in resilience to understand youth resilience across different cultural and ethnic groups. In particular, we focused on the role of migration as a potential form of adversity and how it may impact mental health outcomes over time. The participating sites included Australia (Sydney), Canada, South Africa, UK, New Zealand and China. The information from this study will help to inform the role of various environmental, socio-ecological and health factors that may contribute to resilience to adversity.

Team Members & Collaborators

The WUN research group is comprised of a network of researchers originally formulated in 2014 as part of the Worldwide Universities Network ( The WUN Network contains members across 23 universities. The goal of the WUN network is to bring together scientists, clinicians and public health policy workers across the globe to deal with major challenges of public health such as resilience, migration and climate change. It is from this network that the specific collaborators for the WUN Youth Resilience Group Project were united. Dr Gatt is the Coordinator of this Youth Resilience Group and the Sydney site. The purpose of this youth resilience network is to understand how the resilience process in youth may vary across cultural contexts and types of adversity. Collaborators on the project include Michael Ungar (Dalhousie, Canada), Kim Foster (Melbourne, Australia), Trecia Wouldes (Auckland, New Zealand), Qiaobing Wu (Chinese University, Hong Kong), Alan Emond (Bristol, UK), Amanda Mason-Jones (York, UK), Linda Theron (North-West, South Africa), and Steve Reid (Cape Town, South Africa). Research Assistants involved in this project include Rebecca Alexander (UNSW).

Key Outcomes & Publications

For this project, we have thus far conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire study with a convenience sample of 194 10-17 year old migrant and non-migrant adolescents across 6 international sites (Sydney, New Zealand, Canada, China, UK and South Africa). Migrants included both internal migrants (within country) and external migrants (across national borders). To date, we have reported on the benefits and challenges of running such a study in six countries (Hadfield et al., In Press); the role of acculturation in mental health and resilience (Wu et al., 2018); and the differences in wellbeing, resilience and mental health behaviours in migrant versus non-migrant youth (Gatt et al., under review).

Gatt JM et al., Paper under review.

Hadfield K, Ungar M, Emond A, Foster K, Gatt J, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Wouldes T, Wu Q. (In Press). Challenges of developing and conducting a multi-site, international study of migrant adolescents. International Social Work, Accepted 2nd August 2018.

Wu Q, Ge T, Emond A, Foster K, Gatt JM, Hadfield K, Mason-Jones A, Reid S, Theron L, Ungar M, Wouldes T. (2018). Acculturation, resilience and the mental health of migrant youth: A cross-country comparative study. Public Health, 162, 63-70.