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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Emma Jean Campbell and Emily Jean Steel

This paper studies the experiences of asylum seekers in Australia. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between mental wellbeing, living conditions…

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper studies the experiences of asylum seekers in Australia. The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between mental wellbeing, living conditions, and Australia’s detention policies in light of human rights.

Design/methodology/approach

Using grounded theory, data were collected via observations, semi-structured interviews, key-informant interviews, and document analysis. Participants included seven asylum seekers and three professionals working with them.

Findings

In light of a human rights framework, this paper reports on the mental distress suffered by asylum seekers in detention, the environments of constraint in which they live, and aspects of detention centre policy that contribute to these environments. The findings highlight a discrepancy between asylum seekers’ experiences under immigration detention policy and Australia’s human rights obligations.

Research limitations/implications

This research indicates human rights violations for asylum seekers in detention in Australia. This research project involved a small number of participants and recommends systemic review of the policy and practices that affect asylum seekers’ mental health including larger numbers of participants. Consideration is made of alternatives to detention as well as improving detention centre conditions. The World Health Organization’s Quality Rights Tool Kit might provide the basis for a framework to review Australia’s immigration detention system with particular focus on the poor mental wellbeing of asylum seekers in detention.

Originality/value

This study links international human rights law and Australian immigration detention policies and practices with daily life experiences of suffering mental distress within environments of constraint and isolation. It identifies asylum seekers as a vulnerable population with respect to human rights and mental wellbeing. Of particular value is the inclusion of asylum seekers themselves in interviews.

Details

Journal of Public Mental Health, vol. 14 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5729

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2008

Bengt Ginsburg and Sofie Bäärnhielm

Psychiatric care for adult asylum seekers has been an area of conflict and turbulence in Sweden over the last 20 years. Sweden has been criticised for being one of the…

Abstract

Psychiatric care for adult asylum seekers has been an area of conflict and turbulence in Sweden over the last 20 years. Sweden has been criticised for being one of the most restrictive EU countries in providing health care for asylum seekers. Mental health care for asylum seekers is characterised by short‐term emergency measures and inequality. The complex regulatory framework tends to be interpreted in a rather arbitrary fashion, which in many cases may lead to unnecessary restrictions. In this paper we present guidelines for care givers and decision makers aiming to improve psychiatric care for adult asylum seekers in Stockholm, Sweden. In this context it is necessary to highlight and discuss the importance of understanding and implementing human rights among health professionals. The overall goal for these guidelines is mental health care for asylum seekers on the same terms, as far as possible, as for Swedish citizens.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 4 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

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Article
Publication date: 6 August 2018

Thomas Korup Kjærgaard and Natasja Koitzsch Jensen

The purpose of this paper is to examine if the post-migrational risk factors, namely length of stay and number of relocations, are associated with asylum seekers’ mental health.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine if the post-migrational risk factors, namely length of stay and number of relocations, are associated with asylum seekers’ mental health.

Design/methodology/approach

The review includes seven main studies published later than 2006 examining the effect of the asylum procedure on the mental health of asylum seekers. The articles were identified through the search databases PubMed, Embase and PsycINFO. A systematic search strategy based on the concepts of Patient, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcome has laid the groundwork for the findings of relevant articles.

Findings

Two out of three articles investigating the association between number of relocations and mental health among asylum seekers observed an effect on mental health. Three out of six studies found associations between length of stay in asylum centres and poor mental health. The overall assessment of the studies indicates an effect of the post-migrational risk factors.

Research limitations/implications

The included studies vary in study populations, outcome measures and methodical soundness.

Practical implications

The review suggests that length of stay in asylum centres and the number of relocations should be considered as risk factors for poor mental health of asylum seekers and, hence, considered in the organisational procedures in the asylum process.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first review to specifically examine the literature on the association between the post-migratory risk factors, number of relocations and length of stay, in asylum centres and mental health among non-detained asylum seekers in Europe.

Details

International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4902

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Article
Publication date: 9 November 2009

Philip Brown and Christine Horrocks

Reforms of the system for the accommodation and support needs of asylum seekers entering the United Kingdom (UK) during the twentieth and early twenty‐first centuries have…

Abstract

Reforms of the system for the accommodation and support needs of asylum seekers entering the United Kingdom (UK) during the twentieth and early twenty‐first centuries have meant that the support of asylum seekers has largely moved away from mainstream social work to dedicated asylum support teams. This article investigates how the workers engaged as ‘asylum support workers’ understand and make sense of their participation in the support of asylum seekers dispersed across the UK. By drawing on qualitative research with asylum support workers, this paper looks at how such workers make sense of their roles and how the ‘support’ of asylum seekers is conceived. The paper concludes that, by working in this political and controversial area of work, workers are constantly finding ways to negotiate their support role within a dominant framework of control.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

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Article
Publication date: 25 August 2021

Paul Kariuki, Maria Lauda Goyayi and Lizzy Oluwatoyin Ofusori

This paper aims to examine the role of electronic governance (e-governance) in enabling asylum seekers’ access to public services in the city of Durban, South Africa…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the role of electronic governance (e-governance) in enabling asylum seekers’ access to public services in the city of Durban, South Africa. Because of COVID-19, the government scaled down its operations, limiting access to public services, including among migrants.

Design/methodology/approach

Because of COVID-19-related restrictions, a systematic review was conducted of the relevant academic literature as well as the information portals of relevant government departments, municipalities and research reports on migration and refugees in South Africa. A total of 320 peer-reviewed research articles were identified. These were filtered and 68 relevant articles were selected.

Findings

The study found that asylum seekers have limited access to public services via information communication technology-enabled mechanisms. Whilst the city government has embraced e-governance, it is still in its nascent stages.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited to a desktop one because of COVID-19 restrictions and it focused exclusively on asylum seekers. Therefore, its findings can only be generalised to this category of people.

Practical implications

Future studies on this subject should gather data from all categories of migrants to gain in-depth perspectives.

Social implications

All spheres of governance in South Africa should recognise asylum seekers as a constituency that deserves access to public services. E-governance can facilitate easier access to these services, and policies need to be aligned with this reality.

Originality/value

This study examined the efficacy of e-governance in enabling access to government services by asylum seekers during COVID-19. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, no other study on this subject was conducted during this period.

Details

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5038

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 August 2021

Katherine Whitehouse, Ella Lambe, Sofia Rodriguez, Umberto Pellecchia, Aurelie Ponthieu, Rafael Van den Bergh and Djoen Besselink

Prolonged exposure to daily stressors can have long-term detrimental implications for overall mental health. For asylum seekers in European Union transit or destination…

Abstract

Purpose

Prolonged exposure to daily stressors can have long-term detrimental implications for overall mental health. For asylum seekers in European Union transit or destination countries, navigating life in reception centres can represent a significant burden. The purpose of this study was to explore post-migration stressors during residency in reception centres, and to formulate recommendations for adequate service provision in Belgium.

Design/methodology/approach

Research was conducted in two reception centres in Belgium. A total of 41 in-depth interviews were carried out with asylum seeker residents (n = 29) and staff (n = 12). Purposive recruitment was used for asylum seekers (for variation in length of centre residency and family status) and staff (variation in job profiles). Interviews were conducted in English, French or with a translator in Arabic or Dari. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and manually coded using thematic analysis.

Findings

Asylum seekers face significant constraints with regard to their living conditions, including total absence of privacy, overcrowding and unhygienic conditions. These act as continuous and prolonged exposure to daily stressors. Several barriers to accessing activities or integration opportunities prevent meaningful occupation, contribute towards eroded autonomy and isolation of asylum seeker residents. Inadequate capacity and resources for the provision of psychosocial support in reception centres leads to a sense of abandonment and worthlessness.

Originality/value

Analysis indicates that structural and practical challenges to adequately support asylum seekers are rooted in policy failures necessary for appropriate resourcing and prioritization of preventative measures. Such deliberate decisions contribute towards state deterrence strategies, eroding both individual well-being and manufacturing a crisis in the systems of support for asylum seekers.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

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Book part
Publication date: 4 November 2021

Amy Dickinson

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis in recorded history alongside increasingly…

Abstract

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world is experiencing the greatest refugee crisis in recorded history alongside increasingly restrictive limits on asylum seekers and refugees. In 2020, the US administration established a ceiling for refugees of 18,000 people, the lowest number on record, and only 11,814 refugees were admitted to the United States. The Biden administration has expressed commitments to building a coherent asylum and refugee system and quickly reversing recent detrimental policies. But the administration has cautioned how quickly change might occur, given how “agencies and processes…have been so gutted.”1

2016 to 2020 included an overwhelming series of changes to laws and policies affecting asylum seekers, often with little documented planning or communication, wreaking severe effects on conditions for asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border. These changes had significant consequences for human rights, most notably the linchpin right of access to information. At the US–Mexico border, must the right “to seek, receive and impart information” be fulfilled in order to fulfill the right to asylum?

While information professionals are not expected to be experts in law, they are experts in understanding the link between access to information and the realization of justice and human rights. This chapter investigates the role of the information professional in the fulfillment of the right to asylum, particularly in the context of contemporary asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border, volatile information landscapes, and the legal and historical framework in the United States for seeking asylum.

Details

Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy: Confronting Polarization, Misinformation, and Suppression
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-597-2

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2020

Salma El-Gamal and Johanna Hanefeld

The influx of refugees and asylum-seekers over the past decade into the European Union creates challenges to the health systems of receiving countries in the preparedness…

Abstract

Purpose

The influx of refugees and asylum-seekers over the past decade into the European Union creates challenges to the health systems of receiving countries in the preparedness and requisite adjustments to policy addressing the new needs of the migrant population. This study aims to examine and compare policies for access to health care and the related health outcomes for refugees and asylum-seekers settling both in the UK and Germany as host countries.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper conducted a scoping review of academic databases and grey literature for studies within the period 2010-2017, seeking to identify evidence from current policies and service provision for refugees and asylum-seekers in Germany and the UK, distilling the best practice and clarifying gaps in knowledge, to determine implications for policy.

Findings

Analysis reveals that legal entitlements for refugees and asylum-seekers allow access to primary and secondary health care free of charge in the UK versus a more restrictive policy of access limited to acute and emergency care during the first 15 months of resettlements in Germany. In both countries, many factors hinder the access of this group to normal health care from legal status, procedural hurdles and lingual and cultural barriers. Refugees and asylum-seeker populations were reported with poor general health condition, lower rates of utilization of health services and noticeable reliance on non-governmental organizations.

Originality/value

This paper helps to fulfill the need for an extensive research required to help decision makers in host countries to adjust health systems towards reducing health disparities and inequalities among refugees and asylum-seekers.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 16 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

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Article
Publication date: 31 December 2010

Dora Bernardes, John Wright, Celia Edwards, Helen Tomkins, Darias Dlfoz and Andrew Livingstone

The literature tends to use ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘refugee’ interchangeably, creating uncertainty about the mental health of asylum seekers. However, asylum seekers occupy a…

Abstract

The literature tends to use ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘refugee’ interchangeably, creating uncertainty about the mental health of asylum seekers. However, asylum seekers occupy a unique position in British society which differentiates them from people with refugee status and which may have implications for their mental health. For example, ‘asylum seekers’ are supported and accommodated in dispersal areas under the National Asylum Support Service and they are not entitled to work. This mixed‐methods study investigated asylum seekers' symptoms of psychological distress, using mental health screening questionnaires (N = 29) and asylum seekers' subjective experiences of the asylum process, its potential impacts on their mental health, and participants' suggestions for tackling mental health needs, using in‐depth interviews (N = 8). Asylum seekers, refugees and practitioners working with asylum seekers were consulted from the outset regarding the cultural sensitivity of the measures used. Given the potential limitations of using ‘idioms of distress’ across cultures, interview data provided rich descriptive accounts which helped locate the mental health needs that the asylum seekers experienced in the specificities of each participant's social context. Asylum seekers originated from 13 countries. The results revealed that psychological distress is common among asylum seekers (for example anxiety and post‐traumatic stress), but so are post‐migratory living difficulties (for example accommodation, discrimination, worry about family back home, not being allowed to work). They also report mixed experiences of health and social care services. These results suggest that asylum seekers' unique social position may affect their mental health. Implications for practice are presented and potential limitations highlighted.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 6 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

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Article
Publication date: 26 February 2021

Charlotte Flothmann and Daphne Josselin

The purpose of this paper is to share research findings on the lived experiences of asylum seekers in Bristol (UK), with a particular focus on psychological needs and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to share research findings on the lived experiences of asylum seekers in Bristol (UK), with a particular focus on psychological needs and sources of resilience.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was designed following the principles of action research and was carried out in three phases involving nine co-researchers. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the resulting data, collected through semi-structured interviews.

Findings

The findings highlight challenges which are faced by asylum seekers after migrating to the UK and indicate how these do not allow for psychological needs to be met, undermining resilience. Co-researchers indicated that aspects of the asylum system were perceived as unfair, adding to existing losses and promoting fear. Strength was found through engaging with communities and religious practices.

Practical implications

The research suggests that asylum seekers feel misrepresented and misunderstood within the public realm and raises serious questions around the current asylum legislation. It offers practitioners insight into key determinants for psychological well-being from the perspective of asylum seekers, providing suggestions for sensitive and appropriate interventions.

Originality/value

The study offers original insights into asylum seekers’ experiences, with a specific focus on Bristol. The use of action research and the involvement of asylum seekers as co-researchers are also noteworthy, as collaborative research is scarce in this field.

Details

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1747-9894

Keywords

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