Research

The following consequences, taken from studies on migrant mental health from around the world, are what can emerge when migrant mental health needs are ignored, or the treatment provided does not reflect the needs of patients. Hence, showing the necessity for integrated services to support migrants, socially and linguistically, to deliver the mental health services they require, to provide them the support they need during their process of integration.

Language barriers

  • A lack of community-driven mental health services can primarily cause problems based on a lack of language support. A study on Russian-speaking migrants in New Zealand (Maydell-Stevens et al, 2007) shows that a deficit in treatment offered in migrants’ native language leads to the emergence of even more serious mental health problems, requiring complicated and more expensive interventions in the future.
  • Bilingual mental health providers are in high demand and short supply. Other mental health providers may not have cross-cultural experience to fully understand the nuances related to mental health in other cultures (Downs-Karkos, 2004).
  • Most interpreters do not have training in mental health issues and may not understand their full ethical obligations, which according to a study from UC Davis (Aguilar-Gaxiola et al, 2012), prevented interpreters from delivering a satisfactory mental health service to mono-lingual Spanish speaking migrants.
  • In some cases, insufficient language skills may limit migrants’ access to specific treatments such as psycho- therapy entirely. General practitioners in Denmark were sometimes reluctant to refer immigrants to such treatments because of the lack of bilingual therapists and skilled interpreters. Forty-three percent of psychotherapists surveyed in Hamburg refused treatment to immigrant patients because of language problems (Giacco et al, 2014).

Lack of professional support

  • Social support to alleviate mental health problems was provided predominantly by families in the case of Russian-speaking migrants to New Zealand (Maydell-Stevens et al, 2007). However, a study from UC Davis, USA (Aguilar-Gaxiola et al, 2012) highlights that the use of family, rather than mental health professionals can lead to problems such as a rise in domestic abuse, both physical and emotional.

 Lack of integrated services

  • A lack of integrated language support and mental health services can be seen to lead to the social isolation of Russian-speaking migrants in New Zealand (Maydell-Stevens et al, 2007). As a result, migrants showing a lack of self-fulfilment, often due to unemployment, and a lack of contact with the host population, and a loss of belonging due to emplacement in a new setting responded by withdrawing from the outer world, and the subsequent development of helplessness, grief, anxiety issues, and depression (Maydell-Stevens et al, 2007).
  • Stewart et al (2006) show from a study in Edmonton, Canada that the lack of support from others exerted a negative influence on migrants’ mental-health and use of health-related services, and that poor health had a detrimental effect on their ability to offer or seek support.

 Limited culturally appropriate services

  • A lack of mental health workers trained to work with ethnic minorities, and culturally diverse elders can result in limited provision of metal healthcare services for migrant communities, due to a lack of cultural understanding of staff members (APA, 2013). This is why the American Psychological Association (2013) highlights the critical need for integrated community-based services, as when provided together, these services lead to the increase in the use of mental health services.
  • A study from Canada regarding effective immigrant mental health policy (Khanlou, 2009) highlights that perceptions of racism and discrimination felt by migrants, hinders the utilization of subsequent government health service by migrants.

Impacts on families

  • Migrant seniors are most at risk of experiencing social isolation, often from their linguistic deficits, and adult children working full time. Mainstream senior services fail to accommodate their mental health needs, due to a lack of linguistic proficiency, and cultural understanding (Downs-Kharkos, 2004).
  • Social isolation, which is associated with depression and suicide amongst older Latinos in California, can be attributed to the lack of local, community-based solutions to the mental healthcare needs of elderly Latinos (Aguilar-Gaxiola et al, 2012).
  • Failure of provision of mental health services to Latino youth was said to lead to substance abuse, and the exacerbation of behavioral problems, and eventually incarceration and higher costs in healthcare, placing a burden on the state (Aguilar-Gaxiola et al, 2012).

 References

Aguilar-gaxiola. s, Loera. G, Méndez, L, Sala. M. Latino Mental Health Concilio, and Nakamoto. J, 2012, Community-Defined Solutions for Latino Mental Health Care Disparities: California Reducing Disparities Project, Latino Strategic Planning Workgroup Population Report. sacramento, Ca: UC davis, 2012:  https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/newsroom/pdf/latino_disparities.pdf

American Psychological Association, 2013, Based on Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the New Century the Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration: http://www.apa.org/topics/immigration/immigration-report-professionals.pdf

Downs-Kharkos. S, 2004, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Immigrants and Refugees, The Colorado Trust: Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees: http://www.gih.org/files/usrdoc/Immigrant_Mental_Health.pdf

Giacco. D, Matanov. A, and Priebe. S, 2014, Providing mental healthcare to immigrats: current challenges and new strategies, http://www.qmul.ac.uk/socialpsych/research/publications/documents/159285.pdf

Khanlou. N, 2009, Immigrant mental health policy brief: http://w.ocasi.org/downloads/Immigrant_Mental_Health_Policy_Brief_Final.pdf

Maydell-Stevens. E, Masgoret. A, Ward. T, 2007, Problems of psychological and sociocultural adaptation among Russia-speaking immigrants in New Zealand, Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, Issue 30

Stewart. M, Makwarimba. E, Beiser. M, Neufeld. A, Simich. L, Spitzer. D, 2006, Social support and health: Immigrants’ and refugees perspectives: http://diversityhealthcare.imedpub.com/social-support-and-health-immigrants-and-refugees-perspectives.php?aid=2006