Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Colin Hollidge


Social Work


Refugees have higher rates of western defined mental health disorders, yet it has been documented there is underutilization of Western mental health services by refugees. A more holistic ecological approach is needed to serve refugees best over a conventional Western biomedical model. This systematic review was designed to explore the research question: How are mental health service delivery models addressing the bio-psycho-social-spiritual needs of refugees. The study was set up using peer-reviewed articles and dissertations after 2000. The databases, SocINDEX, Academic Search Premier, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses were systematically searched using the terms; “mental health service delivery models” AND “refugees.” And terms “mental health models” AND “refugees” AND “mental health.” Out of these searches, 14 articles met inclusion criteria and were included in the review. One theme emerged on meeting the biological needs; 1. importance of blending both the western medical model and traditional healing practices as part of mental health treatment. For psychological needs three themes emerged; 1. the importance of building trust, 2. group work is being utilized across different mental health service delivery models for both adults and children, 3. non-verbal therapeutic interventions are being used across mental health service delivery models for both adults and children. One theme emerged for meeting social needs; 1. a psycho-social approach is needed. Lastly, one theme emerged for meeting spiritual needs; 1. to help address the spiritual needs of refugees it is important to collaborate with community religious leaders. Overall there is currently limited research on this topic. Of the articles, little was discussed on meeting the biological and spiritual needs as part of treatment. Moving forward, mental health service delivery models should consider meeting all domains of a refugee’s life rather than only addressing psychological distress. Understanding help-seeking behavior, traditional ways of SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS FOR REFUGEES 2 healing, and cultural understanding of mental health, as well as providing service to address the many unmet social needs of refugees, may lead to better mental health outcomes and service utilization. Future research should focus on the study of culturally appropriate evidence-based practices for refugee populations.

Included in

Social Work Commons