Beyond Stigma: Barriers to Discussing Mental Health in Refugee Populations

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Journal of Loss and Trauma, ISSN: 1532-5024, Vol: 20, Issue: 3, Page: 281-296

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Patricia J. Shannon; Elizabeth Wieling; Jennifer Simmelink-McCleary; Emily Becher
Informa UK Limited; Routledge
Psychology; Nursing; Social Sciences; Medicine
article description
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.