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Mental health of refugees in primary care 

Mental health of refugees in primary care
Mental health of refugees in primary care

Edvard Hauff

, and Reidun Brunvatne

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date: 18 May 2021

Primary health care is usually the first level of formal health services that refugees meet in the country of resettlement. Providing culture-sensitive, accessible, and equitable services is a major challenge in high-income countries but even more so in middle- and low-income countries, where there are fewer resources. Presenting complaints are often multiple and complex. Early screening for mental health problems is controversial, and the priority is to establish a good working alliance and trust at an early stage. Vulnerable patients who may have limited or no social support or social capital due to split families; women and children exposed to sexual violence or trafficking; and torture survivors need special care and attention. Healthcare services are often fragmented making it difficult for people to traverse these services. Furthermore, there is a general need for competency building. The organization of primary mental health care for refugees in Norway is described as an example and a lesson for other countries who are facing similar problems.

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