Mental Health Risk Factors Among Refugees
|September 11, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, News, Research||
Escape from conflict in one’s native country does not necessarily make for a life free of serious concerns or mental health challenges according to research out of the University of London, recently published in BioMed Central Public Health (available online). Using a mixed-methods approach, the researchers examined the social and environmental conditions in of two groups of Somali refugees – one group settled in London, England and one in Minnesota in the United States.
The study, Migration experiences, employment status and psychological distress among Somali immigrants: a mixed-method international study, reveals the power of the mere label of “refugee”, along with other findings:
- Employment was a major factor in the wellness of the displaced Somalis. Gainful employment lowered the risk for depression for respondents by a significant amount.
- In London, 90 percent of the Somalis were unemployed, compared to 26 percent in the Minnesota group. Even with similar pre-resettlement backgrounds, the rates of current major depression, suicide ideation and agoraphobia were higher among the London group.
- The label “refugee” was a sort of stigma in itself, lending to a feeling of powerlessness. Researchers noted that even those displaced persons with professional-level skills and knowledge of the English language found it difficult to adapt to their new surroundings.
This study may be helpful for nonprofits that offer resettlement services as it highlights significant risk factors for mental health challenges that impact the refugee population both in Europe and the United States. As the data suggest, while language skills and employment status are of high importance, the needs of this population are more complex and nuanced than perhaps realized by policy-makers and service providers.
Study Citation: Migration experiences, employment status and psychological distress among Somali immigrants: a mixed-method international study BMC Public Health 2012, 12:749 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-749. Nasir Warfa (email@example.com) Sarah Curtis (S.E.Curtis@durham.ac.uk) Charles Watters (firstname.lastname@example.org) Ken Carswell (email@example.com) David Ingleby (J.D.Ingleby@uu.nl) Kamaldeep Bhui (firstname.lastname@example.org) September 2012. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/749/abstract