Mental Health and Migration

Mental Health and MigrationAccording to an article by Dinesh Bhugra and al., called “The WPA guidance on mental health and mental health care in migrants.” Migration is defined as the process of going from one country, region or place of residence to settle in another. The duration of this new settlement varies, but for the purposes of this report the focus is on individuals who relocate either semi – permanently or permanently to another country. Migrants may move en masse or singly. For example, people who migrate for economic or educational reasons may move singly and at a later date be joined by their families, whereas people who migrate due to political reasons may move en masse but with or without their families.  A significant proportion of people who migrate will become an ethnic minority in the new country.

The process of migration has been described as occurring in broadly three stages. The first stage is pre-migration, involving the decision and preparation to move. The second stage, migration, is the physical relocation of individuals from one location to another. The third stage, post-migration, is defined as the “absorption of the immigrant within the social and cultural framework of the new society”. Social and cultural rules and new roles may be learnt at this stage. The initial stage of migration may have comparatively lower rates of mental illness and health problems than the latter stages, due to the younger age at that stage, and the problems with acculturation and the potential discrepancy between attainment of goals and actual achievement in the latter stages. It is worth noting that the stages are often not discrete and merge into one another.

During the stages of migration, there may be factors that predispose individuals to mental disorders. Pre-migration factors include the personality structure of an individual, forced migration, and persecution, among others. Migration factors include cultural bereavement. Culture shock, a discrepancy between expectations and achievement, and acceptance by the new nation are potential post-migration factors.

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