Mental Health of Refugees in the UK:Mapping the gender and age differences to guide appropriate interventions


Team members:

Dr Alexandra Winkels (Commissioner)

Sheen Gurrib (Editor)
Rebekah Hinton
Matthew Lee
Marida Ianni-Ravn
Shani De Soysa

A refugee is five times more likely to have mental health problems than the general population and over 60% can expect to feel strong mental distress.


While much research has been done into acute mental health issues in refugees such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and short-term interventions such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, little has been done to study the longer-term aspects of mental illness, or the social and community factors that contribute to it.


Looking at it by age and gender, women and children tend to be at the forefront of humanitarian research, while men and the elderly are seldom studied as a specific group.



This policy paper reviews the stresses and psychological risk factors facing each demographic group (children, women, men and the elderly). We review the asylum policy landscape, and suggest targeted interventions towards the stressors that refugees face going through the system. We also make recommendations for community groups to tackle the social stresses facing refugees in the community.


Key recommendation

We recommend that the asylum process be reviewed in light of the stresses it places on the mental health of asylum seekers, and we suggest mental health interventions take place within the context of the community, to provide social support for the mental health of refugees.