Mental Health of Former Refugees in Launceston: A Qualitative Study

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held this month over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Ms Laura Smith, Research Assistant at the University of Tasmania who will present on Mental Health of Former Refugees in Launceston: A Qualitative Study’.

Abstract

Refugees experience many stressful and traumatic life events, from living through political or religious oppression, war, as well as the migration and resettlement experience. The adverse impact of these experiences on individuals’ mental health and effective resettlement is likely to be amplified in rural and remote areas, where barriers to the uptake of mental health and other support services may be particularly pronounced. Little is known about resettled former refugees’ experience of mental health and support services in rural and remote regions of Australia. The study aimed to examine resettlement experiences and access and barriers to mental health and support services of former refugees in Launceston, Tasmania. The project employed qualitative research methods to elucidate these resettlement experiences of former refugees living in this regional area of Tasmania.

Focus groups and interviews were conducted with adult and youth community members, including Afghan, Bhutanese, and Burmese communities; community group leaders; and service providers and public health agencies as essential service providers. Participants were asked about their experiences of, and barriers, to accessing mental health and support services; how current services can be redesigned to overcome these barriers and to bridge the current gaps in mental health service provision.
Key findings will be summarised and analysed in context of wider service design and access considerations. Real-world stories will be explored straight from the study participants, highlighting the resettlement experiences of former refugees living in regional Launceston including their experiences accessing mental health and support services. This valuable information can be used to inform the service design of culturally sensitive, mental health promotion and early intervention programs for former refugees locally, nationally, and internationally.

Key Learnings:
Based on the direct words and experiences of study participants, the 3 key learnings are:
1. For former refugees living in Launceston: – What has the overall resettlement experience been like?
1. What are the experiences of, and barriers, to accessing mental health and support services?
3. How can services be redesigned to overcome these barriers and to bridge the current gaps in mental health service provision?

Biography

Ms Laura Smith is as a Research Assistant in the Centre for Rural Health, UTAS, working on a number of studies looking at the resettlement experience of former refugees, as well as the developmental surveillance and early diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Tasmania. Laura has worked in research and project roles in numerous state and federal government organisations, including the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Laura has a Master of Public Health through the Australian National University, and is currently completing post-graduate studies in Psychology.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit anzmh.asn.au/rrmh

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