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Mental health literacy of resettled Iraqi refugees in New South Wales

Paving the way for mental health education and promotion in vulnerable communities
Refugees Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) CALD Mental health New South Wales

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 (MHL) or 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. Hence, efforts are needed to identify specific aspects of mental health literacy likely to be problematic in different demographic subgroups and to use this information to develop health promotion programs. Currently, virtually nothing is known about the mental health literacy of resettled refugees in Australia and this lack of information is hindering the development of health promotion programs.

The goal of this study is to redress this situation. Specifically, we aim to: 1) Determine levels of mental health literacy relating to PTSD among resettled refugees in the Western Sydney area of NSW, Australia. 2) Identify specific aspects of MHL, such as problem recognition, beliefs about the helpfulness of specific treatments and treatment providers, and perceived barriers to treatment, most likely to be problematic in terms of being associated with low or inappropriate help-seeking. 3) Examine associations between specific aspects of individuals’ MHL and their socio-demographic characteristics and symptom levels and thereby identify specific subgroups of the refugee population most likely to be at risk of poor outcomes.

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