Perceptions and experiences of mental health among male asylum seekers in Norway

Author(s) : Md Ahesanul Ameen TUHIN


Background: Norway has recently experienced an influx of asylum seekers from war- and conflict-ridden countries. Research suggests that asylum seekers and refugees are at increased risk of mental health problems, but there is a lack of qualitative research about the subjective mental health experiences of asylum seekers in Norway. Methodology: The study employs qualitative methods, including repeated in-depth interviews and participant observation. Snowball sampling was used to recruit 25 participants from six different countries. Aim: The aim of the project is to investigate the subjective mental health experiences of male asylum seekers in Norway and their perceptions of the factors that shape these experiences. In doing so, the following topics are explored: the way they describe and interpret their symptoms and explain the causes of their mental distress, their understandings of the concept of mental health and the ways in which they relate to and describe their own, their experiences of forced migration and asylum seeking, their life experiences in Norway, the challenges and difficulties they encounter, the ways in which they potentially cope with and resist psychological burden, and the significance of these experiences for mental health. Conclusion: The research reveals that mental heath is a complex subject that needs to be understood with respect to a range of factors, including the participants’ social, cultural, economic, religious, mental, political and psychological perspectives. Key findings are as follows: The study participants have experienced forced migration and an abrupt interruption of their lives. They describe having experienced, prior to migrating, violent conflicts, persecution, and profound loss, and they describe experiencing life threatening situations under flight. This creates a great deal of suffering, which the participants describe in relation to flashback memories of past experience of torture and violence and present-day experiences of exploitation, powerlessness and discrimination. In Norway, they find themselves in a difficult situation characterized by an indeterminate period of waiting, unpredictability, uncertainty, loneliness and boredom. At the same time, they also exhibit tremendous strength and resilience, and they continue to aspire to and hope for a better future.

Tags: Asylum seekers, Depressive disorders, Forced migration, Resilience, Trauma, Norway

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