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Over the past decade, developed Western countries have supplied
increasingly stringent measures to discourage those seeking asylum.
To investigate the longer-term mental health effects of mandatory
detention and subsequent temporary protection on refugees.
Lists of names provided by community leaders were supplemented by
snowball sampling to recruit 241 Arabic-speaking Mandaean refugees in
Sydney (60% of the total adult Mandaean population). Interviews assessed
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive episodes, and
indices of stress related to pasttrauma, detention and temporary
A multilevel model which included age, gender, family clustering,
pre-migration trauma and length of residency revealed that past
immigration detention and ongoing temporary protection each contributed
independently to risk of ongoing PTSD, depression and mental
health-related disability. Longer detention was associated with more
severe mental disturbance, an effect that persisted for an average of 3
years after release.
Policies of detention and temporary protection appear to be detrimental
to the longer-term mental health of refugees.
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