Addressing Mental Health Needs of Refugees

Rousseau, C. (2018)

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

63(5) | 287-289

Throughout history, refugees have alternatively been seen as entitled victims of adversity or as threats or abusers of host countries scarce resources. Within the present globalized context, ambivalent public perceptions of refugees are shattering the protective nature of the post migratory environment in refugee receiving countries. This raises new challenges for refugees’ mental health and calls for systemic responses to address both pre-migratory trauma and losses and post migratory adversities. Recent evidence on the effectiveness of mental health treatment for refugees confirms the utility of trauma-focused psychotherapy and the limits of psychopharmacology for stress related disorders in this group. Training of mental health professionals may improve the quality of care for refugees by deconstructing prevalent prejudices about them and promoting empathic understanding. Mental health professionals may also advocate by providing information about social determinants refugee mental health to policy makers and promoting psychosocial interventions and protective social policies.