French Psychologist Declares Migrant Mental Health a Public Emergency


French clinical psychologist Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimirsky has warned that many migrants suffering from severe mental illness are not being properly treated.

While Dr Saglio-Yatzimirsky claimed migrants do not have higher rates of mental illness than the French population overall, she said that there is a distinct lack of access to health professionals and treatment for them, Le Progres reports.

“The mental disorders of migrants are both neglected and denied. There is a problem of structures and a very significant lack of possibility of care,” she said and added: “Refugees have often had extremely violent trajectories that cause post-traumatic stress disorder associated with symptoms of depression, some even have suicidal thoughts.”

The recent mass stabbing attack by a 33-year-old Afghan migrant that led to the death of one person has also been linked to mental illness.

In February, the man was interviewed by a psychologist who claimed that the migrant showed no serious symptoms of mental illness but was unable to follow up with him as the 33-year-old repeatedly did not come to further appointments.

Following the attack and his subsequent arrest, another psychologist found the 33-year-old was suffering from a “psychotic state with paranoid delusions”.

Despite Saglio-Yatzimirsky claiming that migrants show no more signs of mental illness than the average French resident, other organisations such as the Red Cross and Urgent Medical Aid Service say at least 26 per cent of migrants have said they wanted to see a mental health professional.

Similar warnings over migrant mental health have been made in the past in France, including a warning from the Doctors of the World NGO last year which said that as many as three-quarters of the migrants in Calais suffered from mental illness.

The groups said that in addition to trauma suffered during their migration to Europe, many migrants were also depressed over feelings of rejection from French authorities who question their stories.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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