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More research on migrant mental health urged

20 September 2006

Academic urges more research on migrant mental health

The mental health of New Zealand’s migrant and refugee population warrants more detailed research, says an AUTUniversityacademic.

Ruth De Souza, coordinator of AUT’s Asian and Migrant Health Research Centre, has welcomed the release of the first national survey of mental health in the New Zealandpopulation.

However, Ms De Souza says in future surveys, she would like to see more detailed data made available on the mental health of the Asian, migrant and refugee population in New Zealand.

Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey, released yesterday by Minister of Health Pete Hodgson, involved interviews with close to 13,000 people aged 16 and over. Maori and Pacific people were over-sampled to enable a detailed estimation of mental health issues in these two populations.

“Migrants and refugees make up an increasingly significant number of Aotearoa/ New Zealand’s population, with one in five New Zealanders being born in another country,” Ms De Souza says.

“Increasingly, efforts are being made to ensure that settlement services are provided and that mental health service delivery is cognisant of their needs * but there is still a long way to go.”

Asians make up more than 6% of New Zealand’s population and they form the fastest growing ethnic group, with an increase of about 140% over the last ten years and predicted growth of 122% by 2021.

Ms De Souza says a recent survey examining health status in a large representative sample of Asian people in New Zealandfound they under-utilise health services. It found they were less likely than other ethnic groups to visit a health practitioner or service when they first became unwell.

The NZ Mental Health Survey results will be used in government policy development and by district health boards in planning for services for their community.

ENDS

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