Mental health on the move: An observational study to characterize post-migration depression symptoms among migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa in China

Fan Yang, Xia Zou, Mingzhou Xiong, Brian J. Hall, Kwame Sakyi, Jason J. Ong, Adams Bodomo, Honghua Cao, Bin Yang, Cheng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective: Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa to China faced challenges in accessing healthcare. Less is known about their depression prevalence. We aim to address this gap by providing an initial estimation on symptoms indicative of depression. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from August to October in 2019. Eligibility was defined as being originally from a Sub-Saharan African country and cumulative residence in China for at least one month. A convenience sample was drawn from snowball sampling online and venue-based sampling by community outreach. The primary outcome, symptoms indicative of depression, were measured by the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale using 16 as the cutoff. Multivariable logistic regressions were employed to examine the association between depression symptoms and their migration-related correlates. Data were analyzed using SAS 9.4. Results: The prevalence of symptoms indicative of depression assessed by CES-D was high at 44% among 928 participants when using 16 as a cutoff. Depression symptoms were associated with unsatisfactory housing conditions (aOR: 1.7, 95%CI: 0.8 to 3.3) and perception of very unfriendly attitudes from the local people (aOR: 4.5, 95%CI: 1.2 to 16.1) after adjusting for covariates. Conclusions: Depression symptoms were prevalent among SSA migrants in China and warrants attention and intervention. Support should be provided during the post-migration period in China to mitigate depression risks. Future studies are needed to build more evidence on SSA migrants' mental health and to inform global health policies and programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110602
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Africa
  • China
  • Depression
  • Global mental health
  • Migrants
  • Risk factor
  • Transnational

Cite this