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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

International Journal of Mental Health Systems 1/2018

Improving the capacity of community-based workers in Australia to provide initial assistance to Iraqi refugees with mental health problems: an uncontrolled evaluation of a Mental Health Literacy Course

International Journal of Mental Health Systems > Ausgabe 1/2018
Maria Gabriela Uribe Guajardo, Shameran Slewa-Younan, Betty Ann Kitchener, Haider Mannan, Yaser Mohammad, Anthony Francis Jorm
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13033-018-0180-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Australia is a multicultural nation with a humanitarian program that welcomes a large number of Iraqi refugees. Despite the high prevalence of trauma related disorders, professional help-seeking in this group is very low. This study sought to evaluate a face-to-face mental health literacy (MHL) Course that teaches community-based workers how to provide initial help to Iraqi refugees with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related problems.


An uncontrolled pre, post and follow-up design was used to measure improvement in MHL in community-based workers assisting Iraqi refugees.


Eighty-six participants completed the pre- and post-training questionnaires. Forty-five (52%) completed all 3-time point questionnaires. Fifty-six percent (48/86) of participants were able to correctly recognise ‘PTSD’ as the problem depicted in a vignette before the training. This increased to 77% (66/86) after training and was maintained at follow-up with 82% (37/45) correctly recognising the problem (p = 0.032). Recognition of depression also increased from 69% (59/86) at pre-training to 83% (71/86) after training and to 82% (37/45) at follow-up. There was a significant increase in perceived helpfulness of professional treatments for depression after training (p < 0.001 at post-training, p = 0.010 at follow-up). Significant changes were reported in confidence of participants when helping an Iraqi refugee with PSTD (p < 0.001 at post-training, p < 0.001 at follow-up) and depression (p < 0.001 at post-training, p = 0.003 at follow-up). A decrease were also found on social distance mean scores associated with PTSD (p = 0.006 at post-training, p < 0.001 at follow-up) and depression (p = 0.007 at follow-up). Changes were not significant following training for offering help and helping behaviours in both PSTD and depression vignettes and, the ‘dangerous/unpredictable’ subscale in the depression vignette.


This training is a recommendable way to improve and better equip staff on how to respond to mental health crises and offer Mental Health First Aid in a culturally sensitive manner to Iraqi refugees.
Additional file 1.  Assesment Battery.
Additional file 2. PTSD Vignette and Depression Vignette.
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