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Traumatic Experiences and the Mental Health of Senegalese Refugees


The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2001 - Volume 189 - Issue 8 - p 507-512

The purpose of our study was to conduct a preliminary investigation into the experiences and mental health of Senegalese refugees. Although research has established that refugees are more prone to psychiatric illnesses than the general population, little has been written about West African refugees. Our focus was on adult refugees (18 years of age and older) from the Casamance region of Senegal. A total of 80 participants (39 women, 41 men) were randomly selected from refugee camps in The Gambia. The Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 were used to assess levels of traumatization and mental health status. Typical of refugees of war, participants reported suffering a large number of various traumas. High prevalence rates of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder were also found in this group. A substantial mental health problem exists within the Senegalese refugee population that may signify a potential human crisis.

1 New Mexico Highlands University, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701. Send reprint requests to Dr. Fox.

The authors would like to thank Mr. Alade Joiner, UNHCR National Officer in The Gambia, for his foresight in requesting this study.

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.