The Mental Health Of Refugees Are A Vulnerable And Marginalized Population

The Mental Health Of Refugees Are A Vulnerable And Marginalized Population

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Refugees are a vulnerable and marginalized population who have high rates of emotional distress that are often unidentified and untreated by the current mental health system. In 2013, nearly 2,500 refugees displaced from their home countries by persecution and armed conflict were resettled in North Carolina. Using the standardized Refugee Health Screener-15 as a mental health assessment tool, two research questions were studied: (1) What percentage of refugees resettled by Church World Service in Durham and Orange Counties in North Carolina show clinically significant levels of mental health distress? and (2) To what degree does level of mental health distress among refugees vary by length of time since resettlement?
Screenings were completed for 51 individuals who met inclusion criteria, and participants’ length of time in the United States varied from zero to six months. More than half of the sample (58%) scored above the threshold indicating clinically significant emotional distress. There was no significant correlation found between level of mental health distress and length of time since resettlement. The high percentage of resettled refugees with clinically significant emotional distress demonstrates a need for mental health services accessible to refugees. Because refugees receive Medicaid coverage for eight months upon arrival, local behavioral health providers should be supported in developing and providing services.
Because this study is limited to one resettlement agency in one region of North Carolina, the findings may not be generalizable to the wider refugee population. Further needs assessment evaluations should use a larger sample size and include results of screenings at time points greater than those covered ...


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... reliability (Hollifield et al., 2013). The RHS-15 exists in a number of languages and has been evaluated for validity in all of them except English.
The RHS-15 was administered in person by members of the research team. The screener was provided to participants in their native language, and an interpreter was present to help explain the research project, obtain informed consent, and facilitate questions about the screening instrument.
Demographic data including date of arrival were provided by CWS. For the purposes of this study, age was treated as a continuous variable. Gender, country of origin, language(s) spoken, and ethnicity were all reported qualitatively and were coded into categorical variables for descriptive analysis. Time since arrival was calculated as the number of days between the refugee’s date of arrival and the date he or she completed the RHS-15.

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