Healthy living

Migrant and refugee mental health

The diversity of cultures, religious beliefs and languages spoken amongst Western Australians continues to increase. The processes of resettlement which migrants and refugees undergo can place their mental health at risk. Grief, loss and continuing anxiety over family and friends left behind can make it difficult to establish a new life.

Other barriers to overcome may include:

  • loss of family and social supports, particularly for women after childbirth
  • unemployment, lack of recognition of professional qualifications and a drop in socioeconomic status
  • language barriers
  • isolation from others of a similar cultural background
  • experiences of trauma before and after settlement.

Adapting to a new culture can be a hurdle which impacts on mental health.  Grief can relate to loss of values that were the norm in the culture of origin but not highly regarded in Australia.

Some refugees witnessed and/or have experienced trauma, some had no choice but to flee their beloved country resulting in a longer recovery period on the loss of ‘what was’ and what ‘life could have been’.

Time for grief work is often put aside as the needs of daily living take priority.

More information

Visit the Mental Health Commission (external site) for more information on mental health issues and mental illness.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222
  • Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)
    Metro callers 1300 55 788
    Peel 1800 676 822
  • RuralLink
    Rural and remote areas 1800 552 002


This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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