Understanding mental health from the perception of Middle Eastern refugee women: A critical systematic review

Roheena Tahir, Clemence Due, Paul Ward, Anna Ziersch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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Women from a refugee background suffer higher psychological distress levels than men with a refugee background. Conceptualisation of mental health plays an important role in using mental health services for people from refugee groups. The purpose of this review is to synthesize literature describing how Middle Eastern refugee women perceive mental health and its influence on mental health service utilisation. The review is registered with Prospero, and we conducted an analysis that complies with PRISMA guidelines and identified 8 relevant documents, including 6 peer-reviewed papers, and two dissertations. The findings of four qualitative, three mixed-method, and one quantitative studies were synthesized through data extraction and thematic analysis. Based on the findings, cultural beliefs, values, and expressions play a critical role in understanding mental health. These included: (a) culturally influenced idioms of distress in conceptualising mental health (b) the role of stigma in mental health perception and service utilisation. (c) a preferred method such as professional services or lay techniques including prayer and social support for mental health treatment. The discussion section contextualizes and examines these key themes to consider how a better understanding of mental health can be used to support the development of programs and policies to increase the use of mental health services by individuals from a refugee background. This may, in the end, lead to reduced burdens of diseases related to mental health among those seeking asylum or seeking refugee status.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100130
Number of pages14
JournalSSM - Mental Health
Early online date11 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Mental health
  • Refugee
  • Service utilisation
  • Women


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