Mental Health Consultations in Immigration Detention: What Can We Learn From Clinical Records?

Int J Public Health. 2024 Jan 25:69:1605896. doi: 10.3389/ijph.2024.1605896. eCollection 2024.


Objectives: Knowledge on mental health consultations in immigration detention and characteristics of people receiving consultations is scarce. Based on a sample of 230 adult men in immigration detention in Switzerland, we aimed to: (1) Quantify the proportion of persons receiving mental health consultations during detention; and (2) Identify socio-demographic and clinical characteristics associated with mental health consultations. Methods: Retrospective observational study with a cross-sectional design. Prevalence estimates, logistic regressions, and contingency tables were used to analyse the data. Results: A total of 30% of the sample received mental health consultations during detention. Time spent in immigration detention, mental health problems during detention, use of psychotropic medication, and self-harm were associated with mental health consultations. Although mental health consultations are provided to people with more severe mental health problems, 41% of persons with assessed mental health needs during the initial screening and 26% of those who self-harmed during detention did not receive mental health consultations. Conclusion: Mental health resources and screening procedures could be improved to ensure that mental health consultations are matched to clinical need in immigration detention settings.

Keywords: clinical records; health care services; immigration detention; mental health consultations; socio-demographic and clinical characteristics.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Refugees* / psychology
  • Retrospective Studies

Grants and funding

Open access funding by University of Geneva.