The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Migrants 10 times more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder – Richmond Foundation

Thursday, 23 February 2017, 10:49 Last update: about 5 years ago

Migrants are around 10 times more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder than the general population, the Richmond Foundation said today. They are also more likely to experience certain life stressors before (poverty, persecution), during (physical danger, separation from loved ones) and after the process of leaving their country (detention, uncertainty), all of which can contribute to the devlopment of mental health issues.

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In a statement after the suicide of a migrant last week, the foundation said many migrants currently living in Malta find themselves in a state of great uncertainty over what is going to happen to them in the coming months. This uncertainty can cause many to  experience extreme anxiety as well as a sense of helplessness,  as there is nothing  they can do to exert control over their current and future situation. A sense of helplesness to change things for oneself, and of hopelesness that things can change in the future, are key predictors of suicidal thoughts and actions.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) emphasizes that post-migration factors can play a large part in whether or not a mental health problem becomes a chronic one. Hence migrants already face a number of challenges which can, and often do, influence their mental health. Unstable situations can only serve to exacerbate these already existing challenges, thereby increasing  the migrants’ risk for developing  mental health problems which lead to intense suffering and at worst death.

Richmond Foundation urges more committment towards the well-being of migrants such that good mental health is promoted and preserved among the various communities present in Malta.  A proactive  approach would be beneficial for Maltese society in general, of which migrant populations form part.  

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