‘Somali’ refugees, mental health and employability in the Southwest: Exploring the barriers to inclusion

Dominic Page, Dave Evans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Migration is associated with poor mental health outcomes. Studies undertaken by Hamid et al. (1993) and Lamont et al. (2000) agree that “transient populations have a wide range of social problems, higher levels of unmet need and significant levels of severe mental illnesses” (Warfa et al., 2006: 504). Indeed, one small-scale study indicate that `Somali´ refugees experience `terrifying levels of ill-health and disability´ (Hassan et al., 2009: 22). One-third suffered from long-term illnesses, including mental health conditions. This led to a vicious cycle of deprivation and poverty, a `perfect storm´ of interlinked circumstances which predict generational psychosocial problems (Hassan et al., 2009: summary). Yet the reasons and consequences of such an association are still poorly explored - despite growing interest not only from the academic community (see for example McCrone et al., 2005) but also from Trade Unions - especially after a number of high profile cases of exploitation by employers. This article begins to investigate the experiences of ‘Somali’ immigrants in Bristol. It reviews a number of key explanations for the evidence of high mental health ‘conditions’ namely; the experience of migration, access to health care, economic and social exclusion and finally, limited advocacy. It argues that there is a significant requirement for research. Warfa et al., (2006) agree with this sentiment, noting that ‘Somalis’ are amongst the most likely to seek asylum in the UK; yet, little is known of their experience on arrival. However, with limited financial resources, language and communication barriers together with cultures and customs which differ from those of the majority in the host country, asylum seekers and refugees are undoubtedly more vulnerable to social exclusion and marginalisation following migration to a new country (Ager, 1993; Sinnerbrink et al., 1996; Silove et al., 2000; Beiser and Hou, 2002; Watters, 2001; Watters and Ingleby, 2004).
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalCentre for Employment Studies Research Review
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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