Psychological distress among migrant groups in Australia: results from the 2015 National Health Survey

Bianca Brijnath, Josefine Antoniades, Jeromey Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To understand the relationship between migration and psychological distress, we (a) calculated the prevalence of psychological distress in specific migrant groups, and (b) examined the association between specific birth groups and psychological distress, while controlling for confounding variables to understand vulnerabilities across migrant groups. Methods: The prevalence of psychological distress, disaggregated by birthplace, was calculated using data from the Australian 2015 National Health Survey, which measures psychological distress via the Kessler Screening Scale for Psychological Distress (K10). Multivariable logistic regression models, with adjustments for complex survey design, were fitted to examine the association between country of birth and psychological distress once extensive controls for demographic, and socioeconomics factors were included. Results: 14,466 individuals ≥ 18 years completed the K10. Migrants from Italy (20.7%), Greece (20.4%), Southern and Eastern European (18.2%), and North African and Middle Eastern (21.9%) countries had higher prevalence estimates of distress compared to Australian born (12.4%) or those born in the United Kingdom (UK) (9.5%)—the largest migrant group in Australia. After adjusting for demographics, SES factors, duration in Australia, a birthplace in Italy (OR = 2.79 95% CI 1.4, 5.7), Greece (OR = 2.46 95% CI 1.1, 5.5), India (OR = 2.28 95% CI 1.3, 3.9), Southern and Eastern Europe (excluding Greece and Italy) (OR = 2.43 95% CI 1.5, 3.9), North Africa and the Middle East (OR = 3.39 95% CI 1.9, 6.2) was associated with increased odds of distress relative to those born in the UK. Conclusions: Illuminating variability in prevalence of psychological distress across migrant communities, highlights vulnerabilities in particular migrant groups, which have not previously been described. Identifying such communities can aid mental health policy-makers and service providers provide targeted culturally appropriate care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-475
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Migrants
  • Psychological distress
  • Socio-economic factors

Cite this