Alcohol, Other Drugs Use and Mental Health among African Migrant Youths in South Australia

Lillian Mwanri, William Mude

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This paper was part of a large study that explored suicide among African youths in South Australia. The paper reports perspectives about alcohol and other drugs (AOD) use and mental health among African migrant and refugee youths in South Australia. The study employed a qualitative inquiry, conducting 23 individual interviews and one focus group discussion with eight participants. An acculturative stress model informed data analysis, interpretation and the discussion of the findings that form the current paper. African migrant and refugee youths revealed challenging stressors, including related to cultural, socioeconomic, living conditions, and pre- and post-migration factors that contributed to mental health problems and the use of AOD in their new country. The traumatic loss of family members and social disruption experienced in their countries of origin were expressed as part of factors leading to migration to Australia. While in Australia, African migrant and refugee youths experienced substantial stressors related to inadequate socioeconomic and cultural support, discrimination, poverty, and unemployment. Participants believed that differences in cultural perspectives about AOD use that existed in Africa and Australia also shaped the experiences of social stressors. Additionally, participants believed that these cultural differences and the identified stressors determined AOD use and mental health problems. The findings highlight the need to understand these social and cultural contexts to improve mental health services and help reduce the use of AOD, which, when problematic, can influence the health and integration experiences of these populations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1534
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2021


  • African migrant and refugee youths
  • mental health
  • alcohol and other drugs
  • integration
  • South Australia

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