Asylum-seekers' psychosocial situation: A diathesis for post-migratory stress and mental health disorders?


Division for Implementation and Treatment Research, Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, Oslo, Norway; Department of Health Science, Swedish Red Cross University College, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : While flight experiences of refugees and asylum-seekers might differ profoundly, previous research has, to a large degree, not differentiated between these forcibly displaced groups. Furthermore, research has mainly focused on post-migratory stress measured after resettlement. The aim of this study was therefore to chart mental health disorders and the associations between mental health and early post-migratory stress among asylum-seekers.
METHODS : Using a cross sectional survey design, data collection was conducted from 2016 to 2018, in three large asylum-seekers' housing facilities located in Sweden.
RESULTS : In total 455 asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia and Syria responded to the questionnaire. The most prevalent type of mental health disorder was depression (67.9%) followed by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (60.7%), and anxiety (59.3%). More men than women reported mental health disorders particularly with regard to anxiety and PTSD, and respondents with the lowest level of education (≤9 years) reported the highest levels of mental health problems. Associations between mental health disorders and post-migratory stress revealed that three post-migratory stressors were consistently the strongest indicators of mental health disorders.
CONCLUSIONS : Compared to previous research within populations of refugees who have received formal refugee status or resident permits, the prevalences of mental health disorders reported in the present study were substantially larger and the associations between post-migratory stressors and mental health disorders appears to be substantially stronger for asylum-seekers. This might suggest that the asylum-seekers' psychosocial situation becomes a diathesis or predisposition that interacts with early post-migratory stressors, in turn having detrimental effects on mental health.


Anxiety,Asylum-seekers,Depression,PTSD,Post-migratory stress,

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