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Young African migrants at mental health risk

Photo: African migrants at mental health risk
New research has found teenage and young African migrants have a 10 times higher risk of developing a psychotic disorder.

Young immigrants from Africa are 10 times more likely to develop psychosis than Australian-born youth.

Citing factors such as adapting to a new country, the experience of seeking asylum or discrimination, a study carried out by advocacy group Orygen outlines the mental health risks of young African migrants.

The Risk of Psychotic Disorders in Migrants to Australia report identifies arrivals from Kenya as being at most (10-fold) risk.

They are followed by migrants from Sudan who are at seven times greater risk and Ethiopians at 5.5 times.
"From the data here we see that the migrants from war-torn countries have an increased risk of psychosis," Associate Professor Brian O'Donoghue said.

"And we know that experiences of early childhood trauma, loss and separation can be risk factors for psychosis."

In contrast, the research found first-generation migrants from Europe, New Zealand and America were at similar risk of developing psychosis to Australian-born youth.

The study looked at young people aged 15 to 24 who presented with first episode psychosis over a six-year period.

The findings of the report are said to be in line with earlier UK research which found specific migrant and ethnic minority groups were at elevated risk.

"This is the first study that can conclusively say which young migrants are at higher risk for developing a psychotic disorder," Mr O'Donoghue said.

"Areas that have higher rates of migrants from certain countries should have services that are adequately resourced, equipped and staffed for that."

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