Traumatic experiences and mental health risk for refugees
Mental health, Refugees, Trauma, Violence
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Refugees who settle in Western countries exhibit a high rate of mental health issues, which are often related to experiences throughout the pre-displacement, displacement, and post-displacement processes. Early detection of mental health symptoms could increase positive outcomes in this vulnerable population. The rates and predictors of positive screenings for mental health symptoms were examined among a large sample of refugees, individuals with special immigrant visas, and parolees/entrants (N = 8149) from diverse nationalities. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine if demographic factors and witnessing/experiencing violence predicted positive screenings. On a smaller subset of the sample, we calculated referral acceptance rate by country of origin. Refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan were most likely to exhibit a positive screening for mental health symptoms. Refugees from Sudan, Iraq, and Syria reported the highest rate of experiencing violence, whereas those from Iraq, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo reported the highest rate of witnessing violence. Both witnessing and experiencing violence predicted positive Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15) scores. Further, higher age and female gender predicted positive RHS-15 scores, though neither demographic variable was correlated with accepting a referral for mental health services. The findings from this study can help to identify characteristics that may be associated with risk for mental health symptoms among a refugee population.
Department of Psychology
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Schlaudt, Victoria A.; Bosson, Rahel; Williams, Monnica T.; German, Benjamin; Hooper, Lisa M.; Frazier, Virginia; Carrico, Ruth; and Ramirez, Julio, "Traumatic experiences and mental health risk for refugees" (2020). Faculty Publications. 338.