It is this harsh truth that inspired PhD candidate Rebecca Blackmore to focus her research on refugee mental health, particularly in the perinatal period.
Rebecca and her team at Monash University are working on a mental health screening program in the antenatal clinic at Dandenong Hospital, Monash Health, with plans to expand the program to other pregnancy services.
“As Monash Health is located in a major area of refugee resettlement, this PhD project provides a significant opportunity to have a positive impact on a vulnerable group of women,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca is positive about the year ahead, planning to publish the results of a comprehensive systematic review she conducted on the prevalence of mental illness in refugees and asylum-seekers resettled outside their country of origin.
“The review has looked at children, adolescents and adults and the prevalence of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“I have been fortunate to work with an expert in this field, Associate Professor Mina Fazel from Oxford University, who had conducted a similar review in 2005.”
After these results are published, Rebecca hopes to travel and present the research and the work of the mental health screening project at an international refugee health conference.
“The Ian Scott PhD Scholarship has allowed me the opportunity to conduct research in a field I feel very passionate about. It has also provided me with the opportunity to travel and share the results of my research.”
“Such a trip provides excellent networking opportunities, essential for establishing future collaborations and highlighting Victoria as a leader in the field of refugee mental health.”
Looking ahead, Rebecca would love to see the mental health screening program rolled out into standard care across all pregnancy services in Australia.
She would also like to pursue another research passion, looking at ways to strengthen and maximise the developmental outcomes for the children of refugees and asylum-seekers in Australia.
We wish Rebecca all the best with her studies this year.