Mental health support should be a priority for Refugees
While major physical epidemics, such as viral diseases receive major recognition and aid, mental health of refugees often receives less attention.
However, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) aims to provide mental health care to individuals affected by the Syrian crisis.
Differences in culture, languages and coping mechanisms can make it complicated for internally displaced persons (IDPs), asylum seekers and refugees to receive help for mental health symptoms.
The process of relocating results in a variety of different developmental, bureaucratic, safety-related and cultural obstacles for each refugee. Studies have shown that refugees tend to have generally worse mental health outcomes than the general population in any host country.
For exmaple, PTSD rates and major depression in settled refugees vary from 10-40 percent and 5-15 percent. In the case of Syrian refugees, PTSD rates have increased to a range of 41-76 percent in children and 36-62 percent in adults.
The primary factors affecting refugee mental health are stressors in the environment after relocation and demographic characteristics.
A hospital in Lebanon indicated that a large number of Syrians had been hospitalised due to suicidal attempts and ideation after the crisis began.
Syrian refugees have experienced higher anxiety levels due to their country’s crisis, further mental health stress when family or friends are denied refuge in a new country and fear of deportation.
In order to treat the psychological impacts of forced migration, a comprehensive array of programmes is crucial. This would include generic mental health services, psychotherapeutic and social interventions, and rehabilitation and specialty programmes for particularly vulnerable individuals.
Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNCHR are responsible for the mental health services of internally displaced persons and refugees, but due to increased gaps in funding, mental health programmes receive limited attention.
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Photo Credit: Institute for Policy Studies