New study on young refugees' mental health

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

A new study led by the University of Adelaide on the mental health of refugee children and adolescents will be the largest of its kind undertaken in Australia.

More than 800 refugee children aged between 4 and 17 with permanent residency status will be interviewed in a three-year quantitative and qualitative study.

The project is a partnership between the University of Adelaide, the University of South Australia and industry partner, the Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia.

It has been successful in obtaining over $370,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects Scheme and other sources.

Dr Tahereh Ziaian, a Research Fellow in the University of Adelaide's Department of Paediatrics, will lead the investigation and says the study will identify the psycho-social status of young refugees as well as culturally appropriate mental health responses to address areas of identified need.

This new information will not only bring positive change in the lives of young refugees but also improvements in the service delivery responses of mental health service providers.

"Refugees suffer from mental illnesses like the rest of the Australian population but no-one is really sure about the prevalence or type of illnesses they are experiencing," Dr Ziaian says. "A large scale study like this has never been attempted in Australia before so we believe it could make a significant difference to the lives of thousands of young refugees.

"We are especially excited because it's not only young refugees and their families who will benefit but also the service providers assisting them.

"The study will provide significant data for service providers to develop culturally appropriate and sensitive clinical services, ultimately leading to a reduction in mental health problems and disorders in the Australian community. It could also potentially assist government policy-makers in their decision-making about refugee mental health issues".

The study will focus on young refugees from Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa as these represent 87% of the total number of refugees who have arrived in Australia in the past eight years.

The study uses cross-informant information, with parents and school teachers interviewed to help researchers form a more complete picture of the mental health issues and needs of young refugees.


Contact Details

Dr Tahereh Ziaian
Research Fellow
Department of Paediatrics
University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8161 6915

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762