New study shows long-term stays in refugee camps result in mental health deterioration

In the media
"Our study expands upon existing qualitative evidence that the prolonged system of asylum has detrimental effects on mental health, brought on by poor living conditions of refugee camps.' Dr Francisci Urzua.

People on the move are more likely to experience mental health deterioration as they spend more time living in refugee camps. A cross-sectional study was conducted using routinely collected data on 856 consultations of 634 different patients during 90 nights at an emergency clinic in Moria camp. 

The study shows serious effects of time spent in the camp, on the mental health of the residents. Dr Francisci Urzua - co-author of the research - said the results supported prior claims about the quality of life in refugee camps, and that actions should be taken to safeguard inhabitants throughout the asylum process.

Key findings of the research include:

  • Acute mental health crises significantly linked to the length of time refugees spent in the Moria.
  • A 10% increase in the number of days spent in the camp led to a 3.3% increase in the chances of a camp resident suffering a mental health crisis.
  • Refugees from Iran, Iraq and Syria were most significantly affected by longer stays in the refugee camps, with men more likely to experience acute mental health crises.

Earlier in April 2021, Movement On The Ground's team of coordinators launched a new preventive program in RIC Lesvos, called DIMO. Focused on mental wellbeing and personal development, DIMO consists of a case-tailored-program that includes work, educational and recreational-activities. With up to 18 participants on board today, both individual and group sessions are taking place on a weekly basis to help promote the psychosocial wellbeing of the community.

The DIMO program aims to enable the empowerment of adult men by creating awareness of their inner coping mechanisms, skill set and strengths. It is about helping to lift them to a higher moral ground so they can see their way through the challenge. Even so, we believe the solution remains in a #CampToCampUs approach and hope this study can raise more awareness about the challenging conditions every human on the move is living through and about the importance of transforming every camp into a safer and more healing environment.

For more information, you can read the full article published by The Business School and the full case study published by BMC Public Health.

Co-authors of the study:

  • Dr Francisco Urzua, The Business School
  • Dr Willemine van de Wiel, Moria Medical Support
  • Carla Castillo-Laborde, Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile
  • Michelle Fish, Moria Medical Support
  • Willem F. Scholte, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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