Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Refugees with mental health issues suffer in public housing

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 11, 2011

Refugees with PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) and other mental health issues struggle tremendously in the rigorous challenges of resettlement. Reporters with the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism are taking a look at the issue in that resettlement country. An article in the Reportage magazine tells more:

Over the last 3 days, the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism has documented the appalling conditions suffered by people living with mental illness in public housing in western Sydney.

Their testimonies, and those of the health workers who care for them, describe repeated harassment, victimisation and bullying by neighbours. Some have received death threats. Yet their pleas for help go unheeded by Housing NSW – who refuse to acknowledge any duty of care.

Today this special investigation looks at the plight of one especially vulnerable group – refugees. Many are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of horrific experiences in their countries of origin.

But a study published recently in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry found that while traumatic experiences in their home country contributed to “substantial proportions” of psychological distress among refugees, their post-settlement experiences had an even greater effect on their mental health…

…There’s no shortage of research on the mental health and housing challenges faced by refugees. Yet another report from the Refugee Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, The Settlement Experiences of Refugees and Migrants from the Horn of Africa, identified housing as one of the main obstacles to the successful settlement of refugees with mental health issues…

…Yet despite a plethora of reports and research, the health and housing bureaucracies in NSW seem incapable of acknowledging there’s a problem. Read more here

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One Response to “Refugees with mental health issues suffer in public housing”

  1. gennet said

    The Catholic Charities of San Antonio Texas caseworkers assigned to newcomer refugees are the most irresponsible, heartless workers. Once a particular caseworker assigned to a refugee she/he hold the refugee’s life on line. Favoritism is wildly practiced, the authorities above do not want to rock the boat, since per refugee they collect money. Catholic Charities saves money if no help done to the refugee. Their responsibilities are only for four months. In four months time the refugee should learn English, find a job stand on his own.

    The welcome money should be given each refugee as a rule – it is not being paid. Out of the money that was allocated to get cash at their hand, Catholic Charities will buy them furniture, bed, linen, utensils, and depending on who is buying the money will finish fast. Most of the refugees will have roommate, example 700dollar of furniture will be charged to the entire roommate. Sometimes 700dollar each person living in the same room.
    The assigned caseworker rape a young refugee, had a baby from him, yet nothing was done. This is a minor, a refugee in their mercy, the family afraid to report because they are afraid it may jeopardize getting job and other help from Catholic Charities.
    A father of eight came two years ago, the two oldest 17, 18 when they arrived were not able to join high school. They spent their life as refugees but are not able to continue their education. As any other community the Eritrean community gave hands, help by finding jobs, and education for the young, working with area high school with language translation, helping them to settle to their new home. The two older children went on to go to Job Corps to finish high school and technical training so they will help themselves and their family.

    Because he agrees to send his children to school, Catholic Charities literally refused to help 57year-old father in job finding. He was told he can live in street if he wanted to, they are not responsible to help him, he should not let his children go to high school. The caseworker stated that they should not pursue education but should work in manual labor and help their father. As of today he can no longer sustain his living arrangement, depressed with six children under age, over 1100dollar apartment payment, working with minimum wage is in the mercy of killing himself, extremely depressed. He works out-side planting flowers in 103 to 104 degree temperature. He has no transportation and pays 140dollar out of his income for transportation. Is there anybody listening, can anybody help? He applied for housing, been on a waiting list for over two years.
    So why does America accept refugees? Please help this guy. All he needs is somebody to listen about how he was told that he should not let his children go to better themselves. He traveled all this journey to give his children a better life, education. Where is democracy when he finds a dnew ictator that he flew to avoid?

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