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How does refugee status affect mental health?

| Feb 25, 2021 | Naturalization/Citizenship

Immigrants continue to arrive in the United States at a steady rate. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that a record number of over 43 million immigrants now live in the U.S., a number expected to increase in the next several decades.

Refugees face a variety of roadblocks when they begin naturalization efforts, especially poor mental health. If you or a loved one is about to begin this process, you may want to understand how making an effort to improve mental health can affect the end result.

Health problems

Refugees arriving in America to escape religious persecution and war in their native land are more likely to have poor health when they arrive, and the medical treatment they receive may only extend to the physical. Many do not have their mental health evaluated and if it declines, they may face discrimination due to the stigma mental illness can carry, as well as their status as an unnaturalized citizen.

Trauma

Refugees who come from war-torn countries or who experienced physical or mental trauma in their homeland may continue to struggle with these issues after they reach the United States. This is especially true when compared to immigrants from lands with a stable government and less violence. This trauma may lead to further depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which may prevent these individuals from pursuing naturalization and improving their lives.

Discrimination and a lack of social services for refugees may also affect their mental health. While the needs of each individual vary, better social support and improved services that focus on the plight of refugees may improve their position.