The 20th of June marks World Refugee Day and the theme this year is #StepWithRefugees.
A refugee is “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster”. There are currently 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide and every minute, 20 people leave everything behind. Of the total number, 57% of the UNHCR refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. They are one of the most vulnerable group of people in the world, and the act of displacement can greatly impact all aspects of their health, including mental health (UNHCR).
The WHO sates that refugees are at much higher risk of falling ill due to poor living conditions and they also have a difficult time accessing healthcare. Although they have a lower risk of cancer, they are more likely to be diagnosed at a much later stage resulting in higher rates of complications, and women have a higher risk of cervical cancer (WHO).
The process of leaving your home and moving to a new country and culture can be extremely stressful and, especially if the journey has been distressing, the increase of mental disorders can be high. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are thought to be more prevalent among refugees and asylum seekers than the host population (WHO).
Issues arise, however, as there is a distinct lack of research into the mental health of refugees, due to lack of data, and many refugees fall under the radar or they do not know where to look for help. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of current practices in healthcare, mental health services and preventative care and medicines (Wasserman, 2017).
ARTICLE 13 VIEWPOINT
Refugees cannot be left behind. Affordable and quality healthcare must be provided by governments and businesses regardless of legal status. Cultural and linguistic barriers must also be addressed. Research needs to be funded in this area to reduce the rate of health conditions and prevent them from occurring. Particular focus must be put on mental health as well, as the movement away from dangerous situations can greatly affect people for years after the physical wounds have healed.
Article 13 can help channel your strategy to support refugees and other vulnerable groups, leaving no one behind, as well as making sure your business does not cross any other social thresholds or planetary limits.
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How can you support #StepWithRefugees?
Whether you’re a walker, a jogger or a passionate athlete, you can join this truly global effort and make every step count for refugees. Sign up today to start adding your kilometres and find out how you’ll be making a difference.
A first person account of the refugee experience: Identifying psychosocial stressors and formulating psychological responses
Mental health promotion and mental health care in refugees and migrants technical guidance
UNHCR - https://www.unhcr.org/uk/figures-at-a-glance.html
Wasserman, D., 2017. Suicide Risk in Refugees and Asylum Seekers. European Psychiatry, 41(S1), pp.S35-S36. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924933817301724
WHO - https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/10-things-to-know-about-the-health-of-refugees-and-migrants