International Journal of Mental Health & PsychiatryISSN: 2471-4372

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Mental Health and Somatic Distress among Ethiopian Migrant Returnees from the Middle East

Objective: This study aimed to examine the mental health and somatic distress among migrant returnee population in Ethiopia.

Background: Mental health and psychosocial distress are frequent among people who have faced adversity, such as exposure to abuse, exploitation, loss, displacement, and human trafficking. Returned Migrants are the most vulnerable population for such adversities, especially when they work in under-regulated sectors such as domestic work entered through illegal migration. Addressing the mental health issues of returnees has to be a cross- cutting activity of any migration -crisis intervention. However, knowledge about the frequency, severity, and risk factors as they affect migrants’ mental health in Ethiopian is limited at best.

Method: In a sample of 1,035 returnee migrants, data were collected on the mental distress based on SRQ-20 and somatic distress based on PHQ-15. A descriptive statistics correlation, t-test, and factorial MANOVA analysis were run to determine the distress status and the relationship between different variables.

Results: Using a cut of point of 8, 26.08% of the sample was considered to be a probable case (n=270), with females endorsing more items than males. Twenty- three percent (11.7%, Mild; 8.2% Moderate; and 3% Sever) of the participants reported somatic manifestation of psychological distress. A significant relationship is found between participants’ mental health distress and somatic psychological distress. Religious affiliation and ethnicity are found to be associated with mental health distress, while gender and education are found to be significantly associated with somatic psychological distress.

Conclusion: Ethiopian migrant returnees deal with significant mental health distress and endorsed somatic symptoms in outpatient setting. Migrant returnees should access to a mental health service that is exclusively geared towards their mental health problems instead of clustering them together under the umbrella of general health services. Future studies are needed into the nature and efficacy of mental healthcare intervention in Ethiopia.

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