Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW

There are more than 29.4 million forcibly displaced asylum seekers and refugees around the world. This global humanitarian crisis isn’t showing any signs of easing.

Less than 1% of these people have been permanently resettled. This means more refugees than ever are living with insecure or temporary visas.

Our research, published today, shows living in this state of uncertainty is associated with poorer mental health outcomes, compared to refugees with secure, or permanent, visas.

But the news isn’t all bad. Insecure visa holders are also more likely to be engaged with the wider community.

Read more: Trust Me, I'm An Expert: 'Dancing out of depression' – how Syrian refugees are using exercise to improve mental health

In Australia, refugees have two potential resettlement pathways. Some will be granted refugee status before arriving in Australia and provided with permanent visas.

The rest arrive in Australia without a valid visa and subsequently apply for refugee status. They may only be granted temporary visas (for example, temporary protection visas, safe haven enterprise visas, or bridging visas) and may never receive a permanent visa. So there’s a large group of insecure visa holders living in the Australian community.

Insecure visa status is linked to poorer mental health

We surveyed 1,085 Arabic, Farsi, Tamil and English-speaking people from a refugee background. Our sample comprised 76% secure visa holders and 24% insecure visa holders. We compared the mental health, past and current experiences, and social engagement between those with a secure visa and those without.

We measured participants’ mental health outcomes based on their responses to standardised questions. Scores that indicated the presence of a mental illness were classified as a “probable diagnosis”.

Read more: Community members should be able to sponsor refugees for the right reasons, not to save the government money

In line with previous research on this topic, we show insecure visa holders reported significantly higher rates of mental illness compared to secure visa holders.

For example, around 49% of insecure visa holders had a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) versus 30% of secure visa holders. Further, about 43% of insecure visa holders had a probable depression diagnosis versus 17% of secure visa holders.

Refugees without secure visas have poorer mental health – but the news isn't all bad Refugees with insecure visas who engage with social groups report higher levels of mental health. From shutterstock.com

Insecure visa holders reported having experienced twice the number of traumatic events before coming to Australia, compared to secure visa holders. They were especially likely to have been exposed to interpersonal trauma, such as torture or sexual assault.

Notably, insecure visa holders showed greater severity of mental health symptoms even after accounting for important factors such as prior exposure to trauma.

Insecure visa holders were 2.4 times more likely to report suicidal intent (that is, having a plan and/or having taken steps to end their life) compared to those with secure visa status.

Despite demonstrating substantially poorer mental health, insecure visa holders were no more functionally impaired in their daily lives (for example, in taking care of household responsibilities and other day-to-day tasks) compared to secure visa holders.

The importance of social connection

We also looked at our study participants’ social engagement. Insecure visa holders reported higher levels of engagement with social groups across the wider Australian community than secure visa holders: for example, they were more likely to be actively involved in sports groups and to volunteer for charity groups.

Insecure visa holders were also more likely to receive assistance from a charity or NGO, and non-refugee members of the Australian community, compared to secure visa holders.

We found this social engagement was associated with mental health benefits for insecure visa holders. For example, insecure visa holders who were members of more groups reported less suicidal intent than insecure visa holders with low group membership.

Read more: How gardening can improve the mental health of refugees

Ultimately, implementing more inclusive policies, which aim to facilitate a sense of permanence and security, is critical for supporting the mental health and well-being of refugees.

And despite experiencing significant psychological symptoms, refugees with insecure visas strive to form social connections and be productive members of the Australian community, which benefits their mental health.

So these findings also point to the role of the Australian community. Many of us will be able to empower refugees through fostering social connections.

Authors: Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW

Read more http://theconversation.com/refugees-without-secure-visas-have-poorer-mental-health-but-the-news-isnt-all-bad-128456

Writers Wanted

Planning a road trip in a pandemic? 11 tips for before you leave, on the road and when you arrive


Biden's cabinet picks are globally respected, but one obstacle remains for the US to 'lead the world' again


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Nisbets’ Collab with The Lobby is Showing the Sexy Side of Hospitality Supply

Hospitality supply services might not immediately make you think ‘sexy’. But when a barkeep in a moodily lit bar holds up the perfectly formed juniper gin balloon or catches the light in the edg...

The Atticism - avatar The Atticism

Buy Instagram Followers And Likes Now

Do you like to buy followers on Instagram? Just give a simple Google search on the internet, and there will be an abounding of seeking outcomes full of businesses offering such services. But, th...

News Co - avatar News Co

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion