High levels of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder remain in Bosnian refugees

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Healthier, well-educated Bosnian refugees more likely to emigrate

In 1996, Harvard Medical School researchers began following the mental health impact of the Bosnian war on individuals in a refugee camp in Croatia. Most of the refugees have now returned to Bosnia, though some have resettled elsewhere. A recently released report presents the findings of the first longitudinal study to focus on refugees who remain in the conflict region. Researchers found that the refugees continue to exhibit high levels of mental illnesses such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. “We found that people who face mass violence or torture cannot be expected to snap back to good mental health on their own,” says Richard Mollica, Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma. “This study reveals the importance of incorporating long-term mental health initiatives into recovery efforts, especially for the elderly and disabled who appear at greater risk of mortality.” The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health.