Mental Health

Bhutanese Refugee Health Profile

Since 2009, there have been at least 16 suicides among the 49,010 Bhutanese refugees resettled to the United States. 1 Community leaders believe that isolation, substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, and resettlement issues may influence suicide attempts and other mental health-related decisions. 1 CDC and other partners are conducting an investigation to better understand the rate of Bhutanese suicides. Some refugees may have been tortured prior to fleeing Bhutan. Men are more likely to report having been tortured than women, but tortured women are more likely to report mental health conditions than tortured men. 22 According to IOM, of the 55,604 refugees examined during December 2007–December 2011, 1,694 (3.0%) were referred for psychiatric evaluation. The resulting diagnoses are described in Table 5.

Table 5: Prevalence of psychiatric conditions in Bhutanese refugees diagnosed during psychiatric referral as part of the visa medical examination in Nepal, 2008-2011(N=55,604)

Psychiatric Conditions Percent
Developmental disorders 0.51%
Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and major depression 0.54%
Anxiety disorders (including PTSD) 0.34%
Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia 0.31%
Somatoform disorders 0.18%
Substance-related disorders, including alcohol abuse 0.41%
Personality disorders 0.1%
Adjustment disorders 0.4%
Cognitive disorders 0.5%


  1. Maxym M, et al. Nepali-speaking Bhutanese (Lhotsampa) cultural profile. 2010. http// Accessed 12 Mar 2011.
  2. Van Ommeren M, de Jong JT, Sharma B, Komproe I, Thapa SB, Cardeña E. Psychiatric disorders among tortured Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001 May;(58) 475-82.
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