Refugee mental health and human rights: A challenge for global mental health

Kronick, R., Jarvis, G. E., & Kirmayer, L. J. (2021)

Transcultural Psychiatry

58(2) | p. 147–156.

This article introduces a thematic issue of Transcultural Psychiatry that presents recent work that deepens our understanding of the refugee experience—from the forces of displacement, through the trajectory of migration, to the challenges of resettlement. Mental health research on refugees and asylum seekers has burgeoned over the past two decades with epidemiological studies, accounts of the lived experience, new conceptual frameworks, and advances in understanding of effective treatment and intervention. However, there are substantial gaps in available research, and important ethical and methodological challenges. These include: the need to adopt decolonizing, participatory methods that amplify refugee voices; the further development of frameworks for studying the broad impacts of forced migration that go beyond posttraumatic stress disorder; and more translational research informed by longitudinal studies of the course of refugee adaptation. Keeping a human rights advocacy perspective front and center will allow researchers to work in collaborative ways with both refugee communities and receiving societies to develop innovative mental health policy and practice to meet the urgent need for a global response to the challenge of forced migration, which is likely to grow dramatically in the coming years as a result of the impacts of climate change.