Author(s): Shameran SLEWA-YOUNAN ; Anisa YASER ; Maria Gabriela Uribe GUAJARDO ; Haider MANNAN ; Caroline A. SMITH ; Jonathan M. MOND
Psychological trauma, in particular, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, are highly prevalent among resettled refugees. However, little is known regarding the mental health status and associated help-seeking behaviour of resettled Afghan refugees in Australia.
A sample of 150 resettled Afghan refugees (74 males; mean age 32.8 years, SD = 12.2) living in Adelaide, South Australia were recruited. Self-reported measures of PTSD, depression, exposure to traumatic events, functional impairment, self-recognition of PTSD symptomatology and help-seeking behaviours were completed. Multivariate analysis of variables associated with help-seeking was conducted.
Forty-four percent of participants met criteria for clinically significant PTSD symptoms and all but one participant reported being exposed to 1 or more traumatic and/or conflict related events, such as ‘losing your property and wealth’. Moreover, 14.7% of participants had symptoms suggestive of clinically significant depression. General practitioners were the most common source of help in relation to mental health problems, with very few participants (4.6%) seeking help from specialist trauma and torture mental health services. Self-recognition of having a PTSD related mental health problem and functional impairment levels were both found to be independent predictors of help-seeking (p ≤ .05).
The findings provide further evidence for high rates of PTSD symptomatology and low uptake of mental care among resettled refugees. Poor self-recognition of the presence and/or adverse impact of PTSD symptoms may need to be targeted in mental health promotion programs designed to improve “mental health literacy” and thereby promote early and appropriate help-seeking where this is needed.
Refugees, Afghanistan, Mental health, Trauma, Help-seeking
Tags: Afghanistan, Australia, Refugees, PTSD, Traumatic life events, Access to mental health care