Mental Health

Gillian Singleton, Debbie Hocking, Joanne Gardiner, Georgia Paxton
Note: Parts of this section have been adapted from Promoting Refugee Health.21 For further information see Management of psychological effects of torture or other traumatic events 


  • An assessment of emotional wellbeing and mental health should be part of post-arrival health screening, although concerns in these domains may only emerge over time, as trust and rapport develop.
  • It is generally not advisable to ask specifically about people’s experience of torture and trauma, especially in the first visits, however the potential impacts on psychological health should be assessed.
  • Consider suicide risk assessment in people where mental health concerns are evident or suspected.
  • Consider functional impairment, behavioural difficulties and developmental progress as well as mental health symptoms when assessing children, or the impact of parents’ mental health status on child wellbeing.

Produced by

in consultation with

                  Refugee Health Network of Australia

Endorsed by

Funded by

The Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide was produced with funds from the Australian Government Department of Health.


The information set out in the Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide (“the Guide”) is current at the date of first publication and is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. Nor is the Guide exhaustive of the subject matter. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in the Guide must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. The statements or opinions that are expressed in the Guide reflect the views of the contributing authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors or Foundation House. Compliance with any recommendations cannot of itself guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional and the premises from which the health professional operates.

Whilst the information is directed to health professionals possessing appropriate qualifications and skills in ascertaining and discharging their professional (including legal) duties, it is not to be regarded as clinical advice and, in particular, is no substitute for a full examination and consideration of medical history in reaching a diagnosis and treatment based on accepted clinical practices.

Accordingly, Foundation House and its employees and agents shall have no liability (including without limitation liability by reason of negligence) to any users of the information contained in the Guide for any loss or damage (consequential or otherwise), cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information contained in the Guide and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act, omission or misrepresentation in the information. Although every effort has been made to ensure that drug doses and other information are presented accurately in the Guide, the ultimate responsibility rests with the prescribing clinician. For detailed prescribing information or instructions on the use of any product described herein, please consult the prescribing information issued by the manufacturer.