Mental Health Issues and Substance Abuse in the Ethiopian Community Diaspora: Economic Costs, Public Health Perspective and Policy
Prahlad Kasturi, Reethi N. Iyengar, Alemayehu Haile

In this review paper, we estimate the percent of the US population represented by Ethiopian immigrants to be very small at about .015 percent of the total. Many Ethiopians fled their home country due to famine, violence and political repression. Many have experienced culture shock and an adjustment of their status in migrating to a new land. Thus, the likelihood of developing psychological problems has been and continues to be very high. In the literature, we found the most common mental problems encountered by Ethiopian immigrants to be somatic illnesses, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and suicides. A significant number of Ethiopian immigrants also have issues of substance abuse related to alcoholism and drugs. Thus, the community faces a significant mental health burden. We relied on previous survey studies done in the United States and Canada to get an understanding of the types of mental health problems experienced by the community. There is under-utilization of mental health services by the Ethiopian community under the current provisioning of healthcare. We estimate the appropriate level of mental health expenditures for the Ethiopian immigrants to be $20 million pro-rated based on US national per capita mental health expenditures while accounting for the extent of under-utilization of such services. The role of stigma, traditional beliefs, prejudices and superstitions regarding mental illness, access and affordability account for the under-utilization of mental health services. We offer public health perspectives, policy options and suggestions for future research direction based on our review of the literature.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jeds.v2n4a2