Migrants And Refugees

Migrants and Refugees: A Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) population[1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

The difficulties encountered by migrants and refugees as they adjust to a new country may include, but are not limited to:

  • exposure to trauma before migration, mental health disorders e.g. post-traumatic stress disorder,
  • stresses after migration such as low proficiency in English, racism, discrimination, loss of close family support,
  • restricted opportunity to use former occupational skills and qualifications,
  • limited knowledge of the health system, lack of culturally appropriate health care,
  • differing beliefs concerning mental health and illness which may affect help-seeking,
  • loss of status, poor social networks, helplessness to improve or change things, and
  • prolonged detention which has been found to be associated with poorer mental health outcomes.

These features are to be considered along with relevant risk factors on page 9.??  

Suicide rates for first generation immigrants usually reflect the rates in their country of birth while the rates for subsequent generations of immigrants tend to be more reflective of Australian population rates. Immigrants appear to bring both suicide risk and protective factors from their country of birth e.g. religious and cultural factors. Of the persons registered as suicide deaths in Australia during the period 2001 to 2010, persons born outside Australia accounted for 25.1% of deaths.

To assist migrants and refugees improve resettlement outcomes and post-migration stressors a focus is needed, at a community and individual level, on promoting strategies, programs and policies to address and reduce known risk factors and strengthen protective factors. This may require a particular focus on differing cultural perspective and beliefs (for all ages), and involvement of members of CALD communities with mental illness, their families and/or support persons in the investigation of their experience of the mental health service.


Useful contacts for Migrant and Refugees

  • Kid’s Helpline https://kidshelpline.com.au Phone: 1800 55 1800 (24 hours for people aged 5 to 25 years) 
  • Lifeline lifeline.org.au Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hours)
  • MensLine Australia https://org.au Phone: 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours)
  • Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (MHIMA) http://www.mhima.org.au/ Phone: 02 6285 3100
  • Refugee Council of Australia refugeecouncil.org.au Phone: 02 9211 9333
  • Suicide Call Back Service (and online counselling) suicidecallbackservice.org.au Phone: 1300 659 467 (24 hours)
  • Telephone Translating and Interpreting Service https://www.tisnational.gov.au/Agencies/Help-using-TIS-National-services/Telephone-interpreting Phone: 13 14 50



[1] Kõlves, K., Kumpula, E., & De Leo, D. (eds.) (2013). Suicidal behaviours in men: determinants and prevention. Brisbane, Australia: Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention.

[2] Minas, H., Kakuma, R., San Too, L., Vayani, H., Orapeleng, S., Prasad-Ildes, R., Turner, G., Procter, N., & Oehm, D. (2013). Mental health research and evaluation in multicultural Australia: Developing a culture of inclusion. Australia: Mental Health in Multicultural Australia.

[3] Forte, A., Trobia, F., Gualtieri, F., Lamis, D. A., Cardamone, G., Giallonardo, V., Fiorillo, A., Girardi, P., & Pompili, M. (2018). Suicide Risk among Immigrants and Ethnic Minorities: A Literature Overview. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Review, 15, 1438-1459. doi:10.3390/ijerph15071438.

[4] Ide, N., Kõlves, K., Cassaniti, M., & De Leo, D. (2012). Suicide of first-generation immigrants in Australia, 1974-2006. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47, 1917-1927. doi: 10.1007/s00127-012-0499-4.

[5] Law, C. K., Kõlves, K., & De Leo, D. (2014). Suicide mortality in second-generation migrants, Australia, 2001–2008. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49, 601-608. doi: 10.1007/s00127-013-0769-9.

[6] Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). Suicides, Australia, 2010, (Catalogue number 3309.0), Country of Birth. Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3309.0~2010~Chapter~Country+of+birth?OpenDocument



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