Migrants and refugees often face various problems and stressors which can take place at various stages of the migration process which can increase the risk of developing mental health conditions. For example, unemployment, poor socioeconomic conditions, and lack of social integration among migrants and refugees are risk factors for mental health conditions such as depression. At the same time, these stressors can also exacerbate pre-existing social and mental health problems.
Factors that negatively impact the mental health and well-being of migrant and refugee children include socioeconomic deprivation, discrimination, racism, low family cohesion, and frequent school changes. Children who have been separated from migrating parents are at heightened risk of developing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, conduct disorder, and substance use problems.
Many migrants and refugees will experience distress (e.g. feelings of anxiety and sadness, hopelessness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, irritability, anger and/or aches and pains). For most people, these reactions will improve over time.
Some studies show that the prevalence of common mental disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]) is higher among migrants and refugees than among host populations. Asylum seekers tend to be at elevated risk of suicide. There is also consistent evidence that the incidence of psychoses is higher among migrant populations in a number of countries, and this has been linked with the cumulative effect of social disadvantages before, during, and after migration.
A comprehensive, multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach is needed to address the mental health needs of migrants and refugees.
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