Researchers at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health are looking at the relationship between where migrant populations live and their risk of developing psychosis.
In April 2019, Dr Brian O’Donoghue and his research team at Orygen identified that young African migrants were between 3 and 10 times more likely to develop a first episode of psychosis compared to young people born in Australia. In May 2019, Orygen researchers demonstrated that the incidence of psychotic disorders is twice as high in the more disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Melbourne. Furthermore, young people from these areas were more likely to disengage from mental health services.
Dr Brian Donoghue said international studies had demonstrated that migrants have at least double the risk of developing a psychotic disorder compared to the native-born population. But little is known about the risk of psychosis in migrants to Australia.
The level of social deprivation at the neighbourhood (postcode) level is determined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and is an index of the relative advantage or disadvantage of a particular area.
In the past year, researchers at Orygen have been investigating the relationship between social deprivation and migrant status as risk factors for psychotic disorders. The aim is to better understand how and why these disorders develop, and to help inform service provision and allocation.
“Mental health services tend to be funded on a per capita basis, as a result, more disadvantaged areas, or those with a higher proportion of migrant population, will continue to be underfunded further compounding the inequality,” Dr O’Donoghue said.
In the upcoming year Orygen researchers will turn their attention to understanding why migrant status and social deprivation can increase the risk for psychotic disorders and will also advocate for these areas to be appropriately funded.