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The mental health challenges of immigration 

The mental health challenges of immigration
The mental health challenges of immigration

Richard F. Mollica

, Kathia E. Kirschner

, and Quyen Ngo-Metzger

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date: 09 July 2020

In 2007 it was estimated that there were 38.1 million foreign-born people living in the United States (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007). Since 1975, the United States has resettled approximately 2.6 million refugees (Office of Refugee Resettlement, 2008). Most immigrants and refugees come to escape poverty, mass violence, and/or political/religious oppression. Since 1960 there has been a continuous increase in immigrants coming from Latin America (from 9.4 % in 1960 to 53.6 % in 2007) and Asia (from 5.1 % in 1960 to 26.8 % in 2007). In Europe a similar trend is taking place: the European Union (EU) estimates that 28.8 immigrants currently live in the EU. By the end of 2008, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR; 2008 ) estimated that there were more than 10 million refugees under its mandate and about 26 million conflict- induced displaced persons worldwide. According to the UNHCR, ‘The year 2008 saw the mass movement of people within and beyond their borders, uprooted by conflict, calamity or searching for opportunity’ (UNHCR, 2008). Patterns of both conflict and human displacement are becoming increasingly more complex. The increase in diversity of immigrant/refugee population from developing countries to the so-called developed countries has increased and poses new challenges to the field of community health and mental health care.

In this chapter we will focus on describing the barriers encountered by highly traumatized immigrants and refugees from culturally diverse backgrounds and provide a model that addresses this population’s specific health and mental health problems and barriers to care.

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