Whilst many people from refugee backgrounds do not manifest mental health problems, the incidence of people requiring support within this group is significantly higher than for the regular population. This is because a significant proportion of refugees have experienced violence, torture, harassment and imprisonment. Others may have experienced war, exile, migration and prolonged periods of living in refugee camps. Common responses to traumatic events of this kind include post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, sleep problems including nightmares, survivor guilt, eating disorders and body aches and pains. RASNZ multi-disciplinary teams work to assess and address these difficulties through the provision of psychological and body therapy support.
The Mangere Clinical Team is contracted by the Ministry of Health to assess the mental health and wellbeing of all refugees entering New Zealand. Where appropriate, short-term interventions are undertaken by psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors or body therapists. In cases where problems are likely to persist beyond the initial resettlement stage, referrals are made to specialist community mental health services or to the RASNZ Mobile Community Team.
The RASNZ Mobile Community Team is contracted to provide mental health support to people from refugee backgrounds resettled in the greater Auckland region. In addition to quota refugees, both RASNZ teams provide specialised assessment and support for asylum seekers during the period when their applications for refugee status are being processed by INZ.
In addition to psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors practice nurses and body therapists, RASNZ Clinical Services employ Community Health Workers from a range of cultural backgrounds. These provide a valuable link between the treating clinician and the client's culture of origin. RASNZ also employs a large number of trained interpreters to ensure accurate communication between the client and treating clinician.