Mental health literacy of resettled Iraqi refugees in Australia: knowledge about posttraumatic stress disorder and beliefs about helpfulness of interventions

Shameran Slewa-Younan*, Jonathan Mond, Elise Bussion, Yaser Mohammad, Gabriela G. Uribe Guajardo, Mitchell Smith, Diana Milosevic, Sanja Lujic, Francis F. Jorm

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    35 Citations (Scopus)
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    Background: Resettled refugees are a particularly vulnerable group. They have very high levels of mental health problems, in particular, trauma-related disorders, but very low uptake of mental health care. Evidence suggests that poor "mental health literacy", namely, poor knowledge and understanding of the nature and treatment of mental health problems is a major factor in low or inappropriate treatment-seeking among individuals with mental health problems. This study used a culturally adapted Mental Health Literacy Survey method to determine knowledge of, and beliefs about, helpfulness of treatment interventions and providers for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) amongst resettled Iraqi refugees. Methods: 225 resettled Iraqi refugees in Western Sydney attending the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), federally funded English language tuition, were surveyed. A vignette of a fictional character meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD was presented followed by the Mental Health Literacy Survey. PTSD symptomology was measured using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire part IV (HTQ part IV), with Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) used to measure levels of general psychological distress. Results: Only 14.2% of participants labelled the problem as PTSD, with "a problem with fear" being the modal response (41.8%). A total of 84.9% respondents indicated that seeing a psychiatrist would be helpful, followed by reading the Koran or Bible selected by 79.2% of those surveyed. There was some variation in problem recognition and helpfulness of treatment, most notably influenced by the length of resettlement in Australia of the respondents. Conclusions: These findings have important implications for the design and implementation of mental health promotion and treatment programs for resettled refugees and those who work with them.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number320
    Pages (from-to)1-8
    Number of pages8
    JournalBMC Psychiatry
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2014

    Bibliographical note

    Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • attitudes
    • Help-seeking
    • Iraqi refugees
    • Mental health literacy
    • Posttraumatic stress disorder

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