Mental Health of Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Assessment and Intervention

Kronick, R. (2017)

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

68(5) | 290-296

With unprecedented numbers of displaced persons worldwide, mental health clinicians in high-income countries will increasingly encounter refugee and asylum-seeking patients, many of whom have experienced significant adversity before and after their migration. This paper presents a summary of the recent evidence on the assessment and treatment of refugees across the lifespan to inform clinicians’ approaches to care of refugee patients in mental health care settings. Assessment and interventions for refugees are grounded in an ecosystemic approach which considers not only pre-migratory trauma, but social, familial, and cultural determinants of mental health in the host country. Evidence for psychotherapy and pharmacological treatments are reviewed, highlighting promising interventions while acknowledging that further research is needed. Ultimately, serving refugees necessitates a biopsychosocial approach that engages clinicians as medical experts, therapists, and advocates