Settling Ulysses: An Adapted Research Agenda for Refugee Mental Health

Document Type : Perspective


Department of Epidemiology and International Public Health, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany


Refugees and asylum seekers arriving in Europe during the 2015/2016 wave of migration have been exposed to war conditions in their country of origin, survived a dangerous journey, and often struggled with negative reception in transit and host countries. The mental health consequence of such forced migration experiences is named the Ulysses syndrome. Policies regarding the right to residency can play an important role in reducing mental health symptoms. We propose that facilitating a sense of belonging should be seen as one important preventive mental healthcare intervention. A refugee mental health agenda needs to take into account the interplay between refugees’ and asylum seekers’ mental health, feeling of belonging, and access to healthcare. We urge for policies to restore individuals’ dignity, and recognize the right for homecoming to parallel the mythology of Ulysses.


Main Subjects

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  • Receive Date: 25 July 2017
  • Revise Date: 30 October 2017
  • Accept Date: 31 October 2017
  • First Publish Date: 01 April 2018