UNSW Sydney helping traumatised refugee men overcome stigma

Sydney, Oct 10 (IANS) Scientists at University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney have developed an online intervention to help traumatised refugee men overcome the stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“The prevalence of PTSD in people from a refugee background is five times higher than in Australia’s general population,” said Associate Professor Angela Nickerson from the Refugee Trauma and Recovery Programme at UNSW Science’s School of Psychology.

“Before our project, there was no intervention to specifically reduce mental health stigma in refugees – ‘Tell Your Story’ (TYS) is the first programme of its kind, and it’s so exciting to see the results of it after years of work,” said Nickerson.

As part of the study, 103 refugee men with PTSD symptoms from Arabic, Farsi or Tamil-speaking background were randomly assigned to either receive the TYS intervention, or to participate in a control group of men who were put on a waitlist.

Men who participated in the trial went on to seek more help than those in the control group, and they experienced less self-stigma compared to the control group.

A separate study by UNSW medical researchers has shown that survivors of sexual assault who encounter negative responses from family members when they disclose their abuse are at higher risk of poor mental health later in life.

“There is ample evidence that sexual abuse is widespread among women – for example, we know that nearly 1 in 5 adult women globally, and approximately 20 per cent of Australian women report exposure to sexual abuse in childhood,” said study lead author Associate Professor Susan Rees from UNSW Medicine’s School of Psychiatry.

“The association between exposure to sexual abuse and a wide range of common mental disorders and adverse psychosocial outcomes is also well established,” Rees added.

–IANS

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