[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/136000]
Prof Derrick Silove
Brief description Although the numbers of persons who identify themselves as fleeing from persecution (asylum seekers) residing in Western countries has increased substantially in the last decade, very little research has been undertaken on the psychiatric and physical health of this group. The only studies published in professional journals have been produced by members of the applicant team. The results indicate that approximately 50% have suffered gross human rights violations including torture, detention in concentration camps and brainwashing, and 37% are affected by ongoing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - terrifying memories of past abuses, avoidance of experiences that trigger such memories, social withdrawal, and constant anxiety. The research has also shown that psychiatric symptoms may be worsened by the fears and insecurities associated with the asylum seeking process, but the exact impact of stresses such as rejection of their primary application at 2-3 months, could not be determined. We therefore aim to conduct the first study of its kind that traces the impact of such stresses on the mental health of asylum seekers. In addition, we will track asylum seekers' general health problems and the difficulties they may experience in accessing basic medical health services. This evidence will provide scientific confirmation of how stress can worsen PTSD; indicate that some asylum seekers may be in special need of support throughout the asylum assessment process; assist policy makers to re-assess the methods and processs of assessing asylum claims; and provide impetus to establishing better services for the medical and psychiatric problems faced by asylum seekers.
Funding Amount $AUD 147,859.82
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
Standard Project Grant