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Perinatal mental health amongst refugee and asylum-seeking women in the UK

Tkaya Giscombe (Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)
Ada Hui (School of Health Sciences, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Theodore Stickley (School of Health Sciences, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 24 August 2020

Issue publication date: 7 October 2020

471

Abstract

Purpose

Refugee and asylum-seeking women are particularly vulnerable to experiencing mental health difficulties during the perinatal period, with social factors compounding these experiences. Research is limited into the mental health needs of perinatal women who are refugees or seeking asylum. The purpose of this paper is to examine the best available international evidence on this topic and to discuss the findings with relevance to the UK context.

Design/methodology/approach

A modified population, intervention, comparison, outcome was used to formulate the research question and search strategy. Databases searched were: cumulative index of nursing and allied health literature, Medline, PsychINFO, Web of Science and Scopus. Guided by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis framework, results were screened against an inclusion and exclusion criteria. Each study underwent a quality assessment in which they were appraised using the mixed methods appraisal tool.

Findings

Eight papers were retrieved, and a thematic analysis was conducted. Two major themes were identified: mental health needs and social influences. Refugees and asylum seekers are likely to have experienced trauma as reasons for migration. Post-migration stressors, including hostility and dispersal from social networks, lead to cumulative trauma. These each add to the mental health needs of perinatal refugee and asylum-seeking women that cannot be ignored by policymakers, health and social care services or professionals.

Originality/value

Refugee and asylum-seeking women are particularly vulnerable to mental health difficulties in the perinatal period. Stressors accumulated pre-, during and post-migration to the host country exacerbate mental distress. In the UK, the treatment of this population may be detrimental to their mental health, prompting the need for greater critical awareness of the socioecological environment that refugee or asylum-seeking women experience.

Keywords

Citation

Giscombe, T., Hui, A. and Stickley, T. (2020), "Perinatal mental health amongst refugee and asylum-seeking women in the UK", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 241-253. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-01-2020-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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