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International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 7690697, 8 pages
Research Article

Impact of Postmigration Living Difficulties on the Mental Health of Afghan Migrants Residing in Istanbul

1Department of Social Work and Social Ecology, School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA
2Department of Sociology and Social Services, California State University, East Bay, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
3Department of Sociology, Galatasaray University, 34349 Istanbul, Turkey
4Department of Social Work & Social Ecology, Behavioral Health Institute, Loma Linda University, Redlands, CA 92373, USA

Received 25 April 2016; Accepted 28 August 2016

Academic Editor: Sally Guttmacher

Copyright © 2016 Qais Alemi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The sociopolitical situation in Afghanistan continually pushes Afghans to seek safety and better socioeconomic prospects in neighboring and foreign countries. In this paper we examine the mental health of Afghan migrants residing in Istanbul, Turkey, an understudied population at high risk of psychopathology. Methods. We surveyed 158 Afghan migrants to assess psychological distress using a culturally grounded measure of mental health, the Afghan Symptom Checklist [ASCL], and used hierarchical regression analysis to examine the impact of postmigration living difficulties (PMLDs) on mental health. Results. We found that depressive, somatoform, anxiety-like symptoms occurred often, as did a number of culturally salient idioms of distress. Regression analyses showed that while socioeconomic variables and poor physical health status significantly predicted psychological distress, PMLDs exerted the strongest negative effect. The most pressing PMLDs for Afghans in Turkey are poverty, unemployment, lack of treatment for health problems, fears of being deported and related legal challenges, and family-related stressors. Conclusion. Our results point to the importance of the critical need to create culturally sensitive interventions to remediate high levels of psychological distress by addressing related PMLD stressors in a highly vulnerable Afghan migrant population residing in Turkey.