Module 4 – Part 2 – Perception of mental health issues

In Western society, seeking treatment for mental health problems is not something everybody is open about (for example: Schomerus, Matschinger, and Angermeyer 2009). Nevertheless, someone who decides to do so in Western society is usually not facing severe societal consequences, and is not meeting with disapproval or stigma. It can be assumed that seeking help for mental health problems is even more difficult in the origin societies of the refugee population (in Syria, in Afghanistan, Somalia or others) than in Austria/Hungary/X. For example, a review by the UNHCR (Hassan et al. 2015) mentions that in Arab-speaking countries suicide and suicide attempts are a source of shame, stigma and social exclusion. In Syria, attempting suicide used to be a crime, and in some surrounding countries mental health practitioners were required to report suicides to the authorities under national law. These conditions can make it harder for someone in distress to admit to a doctor/ physician/ health care worker that he or she has suicidal thoughts.

The tool Refugee health screener-15 (RHS 15) shall support you in screening for emotional distress:

Developed by Hollifield M, Toolson EC, Verbillis-Kolp S, et al. Effective screening for emotional distress in refugees: The Refugee Health Screener. The Journal of nervous and mental disease. 2016. doi:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000469.
Type: Checklist, 13 items
Evidence: Validated scale for newly arrived refugees, sensitivity 0.82-0.96, specificity 0.86-0.91 with a cut-off point of >11.
Time: 15 minutes
Conditions: (1) Establishing trust (more information in D5.1, p 21); (2) Ability to offer immediate assistance, if needed; (3) Ability to offer referral, if needed.