Mental health for refugees

Posted 16 Mar 2021

Researchers will take a close look at how refugee families understand and view mental health, with the aim of improving access to mental health services and reducing the risk of mental illness and psychological distress.

Dr Moira Walsh has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to carry out in depth interviews with refugee families to explore their understandings of mental health.

Interviews will also be undertaken with professional interpreters and service providers working with refugee families to gain a broader understanding of mental health concerns amongst this population.

“People from refugee backgrounds have higher risks for poor mental health compared to other migrant groups; however, culturally respectful trauma informed support and treatment has the potential to reduce these risks,” Dr Walsh explains.

“But refugee communities can be underserved by mental health systems in receiving countries, which often operate according to individualised ‘western’ understandings of mental health. 

“Understanding symptoms, approaches to treatment, the presence of stigma and compounding difficulties, including experiences of persecution, social dislocation and trauma can mean that refugees experiencing symptoms of psychological distress do not seek appropriate help. 

“This research will contribute to improving mental health service utilisation and access for refugee families as well as providing evidence to service providers that will inform policy, program and clinical training responses.” 

Research category: Mental health for refugees

Project title: Intergenerational and multilingual understandings of mental health for people from refugee backgrounds 

 Lead researcher: Dr Moira Walsh


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