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The effect of mandatory prolonged detention on the mental health of asylum seekers and refugees.

1. Introduction

Elements such as the period of time in detention, detrimental experiences and traumatic exposure, failure to converse without restrictions in a language most recognizable to the detainee (Popescu, 2016) and the mechanism of establishing refugee claims, all intensify the asylum-seeking practice. Mental health may primarily enhance soon after release, although the mental health consequences post-release may be lengthy. The function of pre-existing trauma and the effect of maltreatment, dislocation and loss are instrumental in the long-term mental health risk and moderate outcome. (Newman, Proctor, and Dudley, 2013) Detention-related elements contribute to or impair health issues undergone by detainees. There is an association between the period of detention and the practice of poor health. Poor mental health and physical health are determinants that operate to increase the length of detention, and the latter is instrumental in the degeneration of mental health. The prevalence of mental health issues, encompassing depression, self-harming and self-destruction, are key health risks for long-term detainees. (Bull et al., 2012)

2. The Particular Risk and Protective Elements that Impact the Psychological Welfare of Refugees

Asylum seekers are detained at various phases of the asylum process. Newly arrived asylum seekers in addition to those whose appeals have not yet been responded to are detained. There is no clear legal framework regulating the employment of detention under either global human rights law or refugee law. The detention of asylum seekers is a social intervention with conceivable detrimental effects for the asylum seekers. Detention is the taking of self-determination for asylum seekers in the receiving country. Individuals detained may be kept in diverse accommodations (immigration holding centers, secluded camps, or provincial detention homes) which may be administered by public authorities or by private firms. (Filges, Montgomery, and Kastrup, 2016) Mental health experts have a main role in raising clinical and ethical responsibilities concerning the effect of mandatory detention. Asylum-seekers frequently make a troubled decision to leave home, culture, and family. For unescorted juveniles, there is the difficulty of backing their culture and future by themselves. Frustration concerning prolonged processing times (Bondrea and Stefanescu-Mihaila, 2014a, b) and release intensifies their feelings of incapacity and rejection. For survivors of persecution and trauma, the un-compassionate and insensitive reactions of a stubborn regime may arouse traumatic flashbacks, generating anguish, nervousness and irritation, possibly represented as interpersonal divergence with the personnel in the detention areas. (Newman, Proctor, and Dudley, 2013)

Numerous distinct components influence the mental health of forcibly displaced children confronted with significant life challenges. Swift resolution of asylum decisions facilitates access to social, health, education, and hiring chances and infrastructures. Refugee children in high-income economies may not be short of fundamental material necessities, but particular determinants leave their healthy advancement jeopardized. Direct experience of detrimental happenings is related to a raised probability of psychological irritations in refugee children. Perceptions of favorable reception or inequity within receiving countries are extremely significant. (Fazel et al., 2012) (Figures 1 and 2)

3. The Significant Health Matters Undergone by People in Long-term Detention

Asylum seekers who are detained in the receiving country undergo a series of stressors, displaying the detention process and the detention centre setting, which may negatively impact their mental health status. The mental health status of detained asylum seekers after release links with the character of their experience as detainees. Only after the acceptance of the asylum seeker's protection demands, can s/he formally be considered as a refugee and benefits from the refugee status, which carries particular rights and duties as stated by the legislation of the host country. (Filges, Montgomery, and Kastrup, 2016) Important resemblances are present between mental health issues such as hopelessness, suicide and self-harming conducts of individuals (Nica, 2015a, b, c) in immigration detention and individuals imprisoned within the criminal justice system. Both these groups have in common a former record of traumatic experiences, and of mental health issues related to such experiences. The absence of purposeful undertakings and the decrease of personal and social resources for coping (Mihaila, Popescu, and Nica, 2016) intensify the damaging effects of any former trauma or mental health issues undergone by immigration detainees and criminal justice prisoners comparably. (Bull et al., 2012)

Subjective childhood experiences are vital to healthy psychological advancement. Refugees from various countries of origin have distinct kinds and interval of exposure to conceivably traumatic events and premigration conditions, in addition to cultural dissimilarities as a reaction to stressful experiences. Postmigration detention is particularly adverse to children's mental health. Swift and rigorous resolution of asylum claims diminishes the length of anxiety and related anguish for children. (Fazel et al., 2012)

4. The Detrimental Effect of Detention and Its Direct Role in the Advancement of Mental Disorder

Detention of asylum seekers may be carried out to check the identity of detainees, sort out asylum claims, and/or confirm that a deportation order is undertaken. The procedure of seeking asylum in Western countries establishes supplementary requirements on asylum seekers, encompassing, apart from detention, compulsory dispersal within the community (Lazaroiu, 2015a, b), stricter refugee determination routines, and transitory types of asylum. Postmigratory stressors of diverse forms adversely influence asylum seekers who are already sensitive to mental health complications (Popescu, 2015a, b) as a consequence of their former defenselessness to traumatic events. (Filges, Montgomery, and Kastrup, 2016) The stresses of relocation can intensify the physical

health and mental health problems pre-release and may complement considerably the intricacies of reintegration in addition to the burden on the healthcare system. For numerous persons and families released into the community the prerequisites of the visa may impede access to medical benefits and income provision (Stefanescu-Mihaila, 2015) besides other national and state government services. The manner in which health problems are treated and the way in which detention worsens health-associated issues tend to have wider long-run unwanted social effects (Nica and Potcovaru, 2015), encompassing the possible rise in numbers of ex-detainees in criminal justice entities. (Bull et al., 2012)

Expanded incidence of mental health disorders among displaced children may be an outcome of the raised exposure to risk factors. Distal or pre-migration components are instrumental in childhood harsh conditions, but recurrent exposure to aggression (Popescu, Comanescu, and Sabie, 2016) and absence of safety shortly after migration or displacement are crucial. Appropriate and expeditious investigation and resolution of refugee status is decisive to facilitate persons with a genuine claim to put down roots swiftly in the receiving country. Repeated moves, postponements, and lengthy bureaucratic procedures (Nica, 2016) have detrimental consequences on children's mental health. (Fazel et al., 2012) (Figures 3 and 4)

5. Conclusions

The period of detention is a main associative component to mental deterioration, physical symptoms and discouragement. Asylum-seekers arrive with pre-existing significant degrees of traumatic exposure and loss, which influence their rates of anguish. Endeavors to supply psychological backing and boost mental health services (Nica, Manole, and Briscariu, 2016) face the issues of treatment efficacy in a harmful setting. Rising numbers of unsuccessful asylum seekers and long-stay cases have an important effect on the activity of detention centers and the rates of complaint, annoyance, and mental disorder. (Newman, Proctor, and Dudley, 2013)

Received 12 June 2016 * Received in revised form 22 September 2016

Accepted 23 September 2016 * Available online 28 September 2016


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Center for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis

at AAER, New York;

Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, Bucharest


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Author:Popescu, Gheorghe H.
Publication:American Journal of Medical Research
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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