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

  • Zachary Steel (a1), Derrick Silove (a2), Robert Brooks (a3), Shakeh Momartin (a3), Bushra Alzuhairi (a3) and Ina Susljik (a3)...
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 posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive episodes, and indices of stress related to pasttrauma, 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.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Zachary Steel, Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit, Level 4, Health Services Building, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, NSW 2170, Australia. Tel: +61 2 9828 4902; fax: +61 2 9828 4910; e-mail: z.steel@unsw.edu.au
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None. Funding detailed in Acknowledgement.

Footnotes
References
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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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Impact of immigration detention and temporary protection on the mental health of refugees

  • Zachary Steel (a1), Derrick Silove (a2), Robert Brooks (a3), Shakeh Momartin (a3), Bushra Alzuhairi (a3) and Ina Susljik (a3)...
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