Refugees in Malmö, southern Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT.
Refugees in Malmö, southern Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT.

Red Cross University surveys Syrian refugees mental health needs

5:31 min

After receiving tens of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, the Swedish Red Cross University College will survey some 4,000 of them to assess their mental health status.

The government-funded research hopes to establish the rate of mental illnesses or other trauma-related disorders among refugees. 

"Through a scientific survey, we hope better understand just how many newcomers need specialized care. We will also gather information about people's actual living conditions and needs, which is important for the whole community when planning future care efforts," the Red Cross' head of care Eva Hall said in a press release.

Questionnaires, written in Arabic and attuned to Syrian culture, have already been distributed to Syrians who received Swedish residency permits between 2011 and 2013. 

The survey's questions focus on people's experiences of war, fleeing Syria and their current situation in Sweden. The responses are kept anonymous.

"We want some part of this project to be owned by the people that are participating; we are not just going to do research on people," Fredrik Saboonchi, a professor of health psychology at the Swedish Red Cross University College, tells Radio Sweden.

Saboonchi, the director of the research, say the survey should help determine treatment needs and improve the overall knowledge on asylum seekers' mental health and general living conditions.

"We want to identify the positive sources of resilience and adaption and recovery," he says. "If you know it, I think we can support it more."

Findings from the survey are expected to be in by the end of the year and Saboonchi adds that researchers hope to follow up with the group years later to reevaluate their health and see what, if anything, has changed.

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