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Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;188:58-64.

Impact of immigration detention and temporary protection on the mental health of refugees.

Author information

  • 1Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, Level 4, Health Services Building, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, NSW 2170, Australia. z.steel@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Over the past decade, developed Western countries have supplied increasingly stringent measures to discourage those seeking asylum.

AIMS:

To investigate the longer-term mental health effects of mandatory detention and subsequent temporary protection on refugees.

METHOD:

Lists of names provided by community leaders were supplemented by snowball sampling to recruit 241 Arabic-speaking Mandaean refugees in Sydney (60% of the total adult Mandaean population). Interviews assessed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive episodes, and indices of stress related to past trauma, detention and temporary protection.

RESULTS:

A multilevel model which included age, gender, family clustering, pre-migration trauma and length of residency revealed that past immigration detention and ongoing temporary protection each contributed independently to risk of ongoing PTSD, depression and mental health-related disability. Longer detention was associated with more severe mental disturbance, an effect that persisted for an average of 3 years after release.

CONCLUSIONS:

Policies of detention and temporary protection appear to be detrimental to the longer-term mental health of refugees.

PMID:
16388071
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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