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Immigrants and Mental Health

Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: General approach in primary care

“Strong evidence shows that some groups of migrants have an elevated incidence of psychotic disorders after migration… even higher rates were found in the second generation. Factors related to increased risk included coming from a developing country and an area where most of the population is black, suggesting that racism and discrimination have a role in elevated incidence.” 

U.S.-born Children of Immigrants May Have Higher Risk for Mental Disorders Than Parents

“A paradigm shift is needed through which clinicians and the institutions that support clinicians come to the fundamental recognition that understanding of one’s culture is vitally important to treatment success”

Immigrant and refugee mental health: Best practices in meeting the needs of immigrants and refugees

“Stigma of mental illness is especially pervasive among immigrant and refugee communities where being mentally ill translates to being “crazy.” Individuals with mental health issues are often isolated and ostracized by the community especially when symptoms are severe.”

Immigration and Mental Health: Diverse Findings in Asian, Black, and Latino Populations

“More recently, empirical studies have shown that at least some immigrant groups may experience better mental health than US-born individuals. As they participate actively in American life, immigrants become more similar to US-born individuals in their mental health status. That is, for some immigrant groups, their mental health becomes worse as they become more integrated with American culture, values, and lifestyles."

Refugee Mental Health Fact Sheet

“A review of Utah refugee arrivals … between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2014 found that 27% of the total arriving refugee population had symptoms of mental health conditions. Among those, 10% had symptoms of anxiety, 9% of depression and 25% showed symptoms of having suffered torture and violence”

South Asian Mental Health

South Asian populations in Canada: migration and mental health

"However, South Asian immigrants experienced higher estimated prevalence rates of diagnosed anxiety disorders and self-reported extremely stressful life stress compared to their Canadian-born counterparts. Lastly, South Asian Canadian-born populations had a higher estimated prevalence rate of poor-fair self-perceived mental health status compared to their immigrant counterparts."

Why do many South Asians regard mental illness as taboo?

 “Another Asian celebrity to have suffered with mental illness is Steve Kapur - better known as the musician Apache Indian, whose 1993 single Boom Shack-A-Lak reached number 5 in the UK. He shares the perception that his community has a particular problem with acknowledging mental health issues."Whether it's cultural, embarrassment, or whatever it is - we brush a lot of things under the carpet," he said."

South Asian Mental Health in The United States

“First, multiple social factors have been shown to be associated with common mental disorders, including low acculturation, discrimination, and immigration stress. Second, evidence suggests differential vulnerability of  subgroups within the South Asian community. For example, South Asian American children are more psychologically resilient as compared to White children, which is likely to do with benefits associated with traditional extended family life."

Mental illness India’s ticking bomb, only 1 in 10 treated: Lancet study

“China alone accounted for 17 per cent of the global mental, neurological and substance-use disorder burden, whereas India accounted for a further 15 per cent. Dementia is also a growing problem for both countries. From 2012 to 2025, the number of healthy years lost to dementia will increase by 82 per cent in India (from 1.7 million to 3.2 million) and by 56 per cent in China (from 3.5 million to 5.4 million).”

Health Care Providers’ Handbook on Hindu Patients

“Hindus believe that all illnesses, whether physical or mental, have a biological, psychological and spiritual element. Treatments which do not address all three causes may not be considered effective by a Hindu patient. Many Hindus attach a stigma to mental illness and cognitive dysfunction. Many Hindus have a strong belief in the concept of the evil eye and may believe this to be a cause of mental illness. In addition, all illness, including mental illness, may be seen as the result of karma from this, or a previous life.”

How We Deal With It

Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: General approach in primary care

“In urban centres with large immigrant populations, community resources can be divided into two broad categories: multiethnic organizations that offer services related to settlement and integration, and groups specific to various ethnic backgrounds that provide a sense of belonging and support for a particular ethnocultural identity."

Immigrant and refugee mental health: Best practices in meeting the needs of immigrants and refugees

“Immigrants and refugees are more likely to seek care from general health practitioners than from mental health providers, primarily because it is less stigmatizing. In addition, immigrants and refugees frequently seek care from general health practitioners to relieve somatic symptoms, such as physical pain, headaches, and lack of sleep."

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