Implementation of an Initial Mental Health Assessment for Newly Arrived Refugees


JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SERVICE RESEARCH, 2020 (SSCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi) identifier identifier


The U.S. refugee policy relies heavily on the expectation that refugees will achieve self-sufficiency in the short term by obtaining employment. Since physical health is an important factor for employment, the U.S. government requires all refugees to be physically examined immediately after arrival. Mental health is also an important factor, especially for long-term sustainability of employment and overall well-being. Mental health screening is encouraged, but not required, and depends on the availability of services. The goal of this study is to identify refugees' mental health needs in a refugee resettlement destination in Western New York. Additionally, researchers aim to develop a best practice model for an initial mental health assessment and explore ways to connect refugees with psychosocial services. The Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS15) is a valid and effective screening tool to assess the mental health status of refugees. The tool was administered to 63 refugees who were older than 18 years of age. 41 participants screened positive for mental health support and services. Mental health symptomology is found to be more frequent among older refugees and among the refugees who spent a shorter period of time in refugee camps. The results are disseminated to advocate for the utilization of an initial mental health assessment for all newly arrived refugees in the United States. Future research may better explore what psychosocial factors play a role in lessening the impact of war-related violence among refugees in camps over time through longitudinal designs.