Improving access to mental health services for African refugees

Posted 13 Dec 2019

Recent reports have identified African refugees in Australia are experiencing high rates of mental health issues. Now Flinders University researchers are focusing in on how they can improve access to mental health services for this vulnerable group.

Associate Professor Lillian Mwanri will use a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to interview members of the African community, as well as service providers, to better understand mental health access issues and explore effective and targeted ways for greater access to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The Australian Human Rights Commission report on Social Inclusion and Health for Africans identified high rates of mental health issues, inadequate health care and low rates of access to mental health services in Australia.

An increase in the number of people displaced by wars and civil conflict in Africa has increased the number of African refugees and migrants settled in South Australia.  Many refugees have had long stays in refugee camps enduring serious levels of vulnerability which, when coupled with settlement challenges, can lead to complex health outcomes including mental health issues.

However, to date the literature on barriers and access to mental health services among this group of humanitarian migrants is limited and there is little evidence on pathways to improve health outcomes – something which Associate Professor Mwanri hopes to change.

The population of African migrants in Australia is increasing and the majority are refugees…among them there are high rates of mental health issues and inadequate health care.

Project title: Improving access to mental health services among African refugees in Australia.

Lead researcher: Associate Professor Lillian Mwanri


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