The Spiraling Mental Health of Syrian Refugees
“Is it because these refugees are coming from somewhere where they’ve seen their families butchered and suffered some kind of trauma? […] Or is it because as refugees they had to wander across half of Africa for a couple years before they ever got to Europe? Or is it because that when they got to Europe and eventually Sweden, they lived in fear of being kicked out of the country?”
As refugees find themselves piling up at closed borders, stuck indefinitely in overcrowded camps, and resettled in countries they may have had little to no connection to, reports are indicating an increasing prevalence of mental health problems and risk of long-term illness. The stresses of war, upended lives, separated families, life-threatening travel, and an uncertain future have caught up to a growing number of refugees, causing severe degradation of their mental health relative to other non-refugee migrant groups.
Humanitarian workers have observed that deteriorating mental health conditions with little access to appropriate healthcare have contributed to violence and vulnerability to radicalization. While refugees tell stories of loss, desperation, and disillusionment, field psychologists report increases in or risk of PTSD, panic disorders, depression, anxiety, and a range of psychotic conditions among refugee populations, further compounding their already marginalized status and setting the stage for potentially lifelong psychological battles.
“Refugees Suffer a Higher Rate of Psychotic Disorders” (Scientific American)
“Lebanon struggles to help Syrian refugees with mental health problems” (Reuters)
“Idomeni’s refugees suffer mental anguish” (Deutsche Welle)
“Psychological toll on Syrian refugees alarming, many suffer from mental illnesses” (The Daily Sabah)
“Syrian Refugees In Canada Face Ongoing Health Challenges: Study” (The Huffington Post)
(Image Credit: D. Tosidis/Deutsche Welle)