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Exploring the relationship between postmigratory stressors and mental health for asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers in the UK


  • Depression and Mood Disorders


Document Type

Published Date

  • 2017


  • Numerous studies have linked the high rates of traumatic events experienced by refugees to the elevated rate of mental health problems in these populations. A growing body of evidence has also highlighted the importance of considering postmigratory stressors when making sense of displaced person distress. This study explored the relationship between mental health and postmigratory stress for asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers in Britain. The study further examined if those refused asylum experienced elevated distress and postmigratory stress compared to those awaiting the outcome of asylum applications. Results indicated that participants (N = 97) had endured a range of pre- and postmigratory stressors and had high scores on measures of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. A postmigratory factor comprising items associated with isolation, restrictive policies, and stressors associated with having an insecure immigration status, was significantly associated with PTSD scores. This relationship remained when controlling for the variance accounted for by premigratory trauma predictors. Being refused asylum was the strongest predictor of depression and anxiety. Those refused asylum scored higher on a factor associated with barriers to accessing services. Social materialist theories of distress are drawn upon to contextualise the heightened vulnerability of those refused asylum. The paper concludes by emphasising the problems associated with taking an exclusively trauma-focussed approach when working with asylum seekers and argues for community orientated interventions to support displaced people to cope with the various stressors endured in exile.
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