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Identifying the critical time points for mental health of asylum seekers and refugees in high-income countries

  • Domenico Giacco (a1)

Abstract

Aims

High heterogeneity was found in the prevalence rates of mental disorders in adult asylum seekers and refugees in high-income countries. This may be related to different problems. Among them, there is a changing exposure to risk and protective factors for mental health at different phases of these people's life before migration, and during the migratory journey and resettlement. This study aimed at identifying and distinguishing time points in which distinct risk and protective factors for the mental health of asylum seekers and refugees may occur.

Methods

Systematic review and narrative synthesis. A systematic search was carried out for the period January 2017–August 2019, given the existence of systematic reviews of the evidence up to January 2017.

Results

Two hundred and fifty-two studies were identified with our search and 31 studies were included. The critical time points identified are: (a) before the travel; (b) during the travel; (c) at initial settlement in the host country; (d) when attempting to integrate in the host country; (e) when the immigration status is challenged or revoked. Some factors such as sense of belonging in the host country can be risk factors or protective factors depending on the time point.

Conclusions

These five critical time points can guide the development and selection of well-timed preventive and treatment interventions. They could also be used to stratify samples in epidemiological studies and meta-analyses. At present, we know much more on risk factors than on protective factors. Knowing more about protective factors may inform the development of interventions to foster them.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Domenico Giacco, E-mail: d.giacco@qmul.ac.uk

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Keywords

Identifying the critical time points for mental health of asylum seekers and refugees in high-income countries

  • Domenico Giacco (a1)

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