Some migrants may be affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which develops following a stressful event or situation of an exceptionally threatening or catastrophic nature, which is likely to cause pervasive distress in almost anyone. Rates of PTSD are higher in refugees than in migrants who are not forcibly displaced, but are still relatively low.
Psychological and social distress among refugees manifests in a wide range of problems including:
The symptoms of PTSD are extreme and encompass more than just remembering the event or dreams, but a combination of disabling recall, dreams and memories. PTSD sufferers may not present for treatment for months or years after the onset of symptoms despite the considerable distress experienced.
PTSD may present with a range of symptoms including:
It is important to use specific clinical tools to make a diagnosis rather than over-diagnose PTSD:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced a guidance note (attached below) with advice on protecting and supporting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Europe. It explains the challenges to mental health and psychosocial wellbeing faced by refugees and migrants and describes common mental health and psychosocial responses they may experience. These experiences and responses can vary widely, and change over time. For example:
It is important to recognise that many stress responses are natural ways in which body and mind react to stressors and should not be considered abnormal.
In responding to psychological and social distress among migrants:
Stress response can be managed through a range of stress reduction strategies, including:
Guidance (link below) on the assessment and management of conditions specifically related to stress have been produced by WHO.
The information provided is taken from the Public Health England Migrant Health Guide, linked below. Further useful resources can be find at their website.
Not found what you want? Then ask your own questionAsk a question