Global mental health: trauma and adversity among populations in transition

Author(s) : Brian J. Hall, and Miranda Olff

Abstract: Migration and trauma is a critical and timely area of inquiry given the enormous transnational migration occurring within the past year. The UN estimates there are over 244 million people living outside of their country of origin (United Nations Population Fund, 2016). United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated there were over 1,000,000 refugees fleeing to Europe by boat during the year 2015 (UNHCR, 2016). The nature of their migration is forced and due to war and violence in their home countries (e.g., Turner, 2015). Studies indicate that refugee communities are at increased risk for common mental disorders including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety (Lindert, Von Ehrenstein, Priebe, Mielck, & Brähler, 2009). Therefore, the mental health of this sizable population in Europe and in other countries in the Middle East and globally is an important public mental health priority. Traumatic event exposure may occur during three key phases: pre-migration, transit, and post-migration (Zimmerman, Kiss, & Hossain, 2011). Continued research into the consequences of trauma exposure along this continuum, and intervention and prevention programs addressing the mental health of individuals and communities in transition are needed.

Key words: Migration, trauma, mental health, Europe

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