Institute for Global Health


Susanna Corona

Susanna Corona
Susanna's thesis title is "Understanding perceptions of migration transit and identity (trans)formation of unaccompanied migrant minors in Mexico."

Her primary supervisor is Dr Delan Devakumar.

To get in touch with Susanna, please email her at susanna.corona.19@ucl.ac.uk

About Susanna

Susanna is pictured here at the Children of the Mediterranean sculpture in Middlesex.

Susanna is a medical doctor graduated from the University of Milan in 2018. Her main interests are in how social adversities and/or conditions affect children in the short and long term, especially in migration contexts. Following this interest, she has written her final degree thesis on age assessment in unaccompanied minors under the supervision of Professor Cristina Cattaneo of the Institute of Legal Medicine of Milan.

After graduating, thanks to the help of Professor Paolo Vineis from Imperial, she has done an experience in Turin at the IIGM (Italian Institute for Genomic Medicine), collaborating in the analysis of a birth cohort part of the Lifepath project, regarding the long term impact that different conditions during pregnancy can have for the child. Subsequently, she obtained the Italian medical license and started her PhD in the Institute for Global Health, UCL, with an independent project funded by the Mexican government in fees and personal expenses. 

Thesis summary

My project regards the ethnographic exploration of the concepts of identity and resilience in a population of unaccompanied migrant minors who are in or have experienced transit through Mexico.

Both the migration experience and its mental health outcomes for unaccompanied migrant minors are complex, especially in the current humanitarian crisis that Mexico is experiencing after the Mexican government agreed to militarise its borders under US pressure since June 2019.

Given this complexity, a motivated ethnography is a well-suited method to holistically explore the perception, understanding and mental health needs in this population. Both identity, or sense of self, and resilience are very important aspects of mental health that are subject to intense challenges during the migration process, especially for an adolescent population that has yet to reach maturity.

This research aims to utilise photovoice integrated with drawings and interviews in a population of 20-30 unaccompanied migrant minors in transit and asylum applicants hosted in the FM4 Center Of Attention To Migrants and Refugees in Guadalajara, Mexico, in order to explore their perception of the transit experience, the implications for their identity formation and their points of reference for resilience during the journey.

Through this, the aim is to identify risk and protective factors related to mental health outcomes in this population, with socio-political and cultural sensitivity. In addition, engagement with local authorities will be sought in order to advocate procedures for the protection of unaccompanied migrant minors in Mexico.