Journal of Refugee & Global Health

(1) Health Research Ethics Board (HREB), University of Manitoba. Ethics # HS22244 (H2018:406) (2) • Research Access and Approval Committee, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA). Reference # RAAC 2019-004


Introduction: Refugees have higher risk of developing mental illness like anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as they flee from violence. Women refugees may have unique mental healthcare needs due to their vulnerability to gender-based violence and abuse during flight from war. The research question of this study was what the health system can do better to address the mental healthcare needs of refugee women in Winnipeg.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 Syrian refugee women and 6 service providers/decision makers. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative inductive analysis and coded for themes based on recurring issues.

Results: Limited understanding of mental health and illness among refugees, stigma, and the need for culturally competent care were noted by the service providers. System navigation, language, unemployment and safety of family members left behind in Syria were the main concerns of the refugee women. While there are many programs available for refugee women in Winnipeg, lack of collaboration and coordination among providers was identified.

Conclusions: This study recommends that service providers use resources developed by UNHCR and Canadian physicians in providing culturally competent care, decision makers take leadership roles in implementing better collaboration among agencies, employers be open in hiring refugees and everyone in the society ensures that the refugee women feel welcomed and included.


This research received funding from Canadian Institute of Health Research, Manitoba Training Program for Health Service Research Fellowship and the University of Manitoba.



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