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Nord J Psychiatry. 2003;57(3):203-7.

Refugee families during asylum seeking.

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Department of Child Psychiatry, Turku University Hospital, FI-20520 Turku, Finland.


The mental health of refugee families with children during the asylum period is a neglected research area in psychiatry. The present paper describes the situation of 10 refugee families residing at an asylum centre in Finland. Case vignettes are presented to illustrate the situations of these families. The study shows a high rate of depressive and post-traumatic stress disorder-related symptoms among adult refugees. The case vignettes suggest that during the asylum period, many children and adult members of the family are not in a post-traumatic situation, but they live constantly in a distressing situation. The foremost distress amongst the asylum seekers appeared to be fear of deportation and separation from family members. Most of the adults and all children had not received any psychiatric or psychotherapeutic assessment or treatment. It is likely that current procedures for dealing with the asylum seekers contributes to the level of stress, family confusion and psychiatric problems in already traumatized refugee families.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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