Mental Health

Mental health issues may be common in Somali refugees being resettled in the United States. In a community-based cross-sectional survey of adult refugees in Melkadida refugee camp in Southeast Ethiopia, more than one third (38.3%) of those surveyed (n=847) reported symptoms consistent with depression [54]. Researchers also found that displacement as a refugee, lack of secure housing, witnessing the murder of family or friends, and other traumatic events were significantly associated with depression among camp residents [54].

Mental health issues continue to be a challenge for Somali refugees after resettlement. In a study of Somali refugees living in Finland (n=128), exposure to war trauma and post-resettlement discrimination were associated with greater PTSD and depressive symptoms [55]. However, religiosity was found to be protective among older Somali refugees, with war trauma not associated with high levels of PTSD [55]. Among adolescents, data collected from Somali refugees resettled in the United States (n=135) indicate that history of trauma and acculturation challenges directly diminish well-being [56].


  1. Feyera F, Mihretie G, Bedaso A, et al. Prevalence of depression and associated factors among Somali refugee at Melkadida camp, Southeast Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry, 2015 Jul 24;15:171.
  2. Molsa M, Kuittinen S, Tiilikainen M, et al. Mental health among older refugees: the role of trauma, discrimination, and religiousness. Aging Ment Health 2017 Aug;21(8):829–37.
  3. Lincoln AK, Lazarevic V, White MT, Ellis BH. The impact of acculturation style and acculturative hassles on the mental health of Somali adolescent refugees. J Immigr Minor Health 2016 Aug;18(4):771–8.