Beyond Stigma: Barriers to Discussing Mental Health in Refugee Populations

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Abstract

Mental health stigma remains one of the most commonly cited reason for why refugees fail to access mental health services. This study looks beyond stigma to explore refugees’ perspectives on why it is difficult to discuss mental health. Ethnocultural methodologies informed 13 focus groups with 111 refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Somali, and Ethiopia. Findings describing reasons why it is difficult to discuss mental health include a history of political repression, fear, the belief that talking does not help, lack of knowledge about mental health, avoidance of symptoms, shame, and culture. Recommendations for empowering and educating refugees are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-296
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Loss and Trauma
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2015

Keywords

  • Mental health stigma
  • Refugee mental health
  • Refugee trauma
  • Torture
  • War trauma

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