Rome – A high number of migrants and asylum seekers are suffering from mental health disorders following experiences in their home countries, the trauma of the journey to Europe and due to the inadequate reception conditions in Italy, warned Médecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in a report published today.
MSF, which has been providing assistance in reception centres for asylum seekers in Italy for over 10 years, calls upon the Italian and EU authorities to prioritise the mental health of this particularly vulnerable population.
“Of 387 people interviewed during MSF’s psychological support activities 60 per cent presented with mental health disorders and 87 per cent of the 199 followed up during their time in the asylum system in Italy stated that the reception system was making their suffering worse, ” explains Silvia Mancini, public health expert and author of the report.
“The asylum system is overwhelmed and the process very drawn out in Italy. This means that men, women and children are stuck in emergency reception centres for long periods of time. This uncertainty can trigger intense anxiety and other stress conditions.”
The report, titled Neglected Trauma, uses data collected between July 2015 and February 2016 in several emergency reception centres (CAS) in Rome, Trapani and Milan, as well as medical data collected during MSF’s regular activities in the centres of Ragusa Province, between 2014 and 2015.
Among the 199 patients directly cared for by MSF’s teams in Ragusa emergency reception centres, 42 per cent presented with mental disorders associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and 27 per cent of patients were affected by anxiety. The likelihood of psychological disorders was shown to be 3.7 times higher among those who suffered previous traumatic events.