After a series of violent attacks perpetrated by migrants in Germany which have been blamed on mental illness, new studies have noted a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers showing evidence of depression and trauma. German studies show that the rate of mental illness amongst asylum seekers is far higher than the country’s national average among native born residents.
Some estimates claim the rate of depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses are up to 10 times higher amongst asylum seekers than native Germans, Der Spiegel reports. The rate of depression is most prominent amongst asylum seekers with some studies claiming that 40 per cent suffer from depression and men, especially, are likely to have suicidal thoughts.
Doctor and psychotherapist Mechthild Wenk-Ansohn said that some asylum seekers develop some sort of mental illness during the asylum process because of the fear and uncertainty regarding their future. Wenk-Ansohn said that whilst the issue has come into the national conversation, the resources are limited and that makes it hard for therapists to deal with afflicted asylum seekers.
Wenk-Ansohn said that these sort of asylum seekers are targets for groups like Islamic State and other jihadist groups as they promise to offer solutions to their problems.
The psychotherapist said she had personally witnessed radical Islamist Salafists try to recruit mentally ill asylum seekers.
Other professionals, including psychiatrist Daniel Zagury, have also warned in the past that jihadists have targeted mentally ill individuals saying: “Today, it’s ‘Allahu Akbar’ that gives a sense of the mystical, of the messianic, to their actions. That’s why we have these people driving their cars into crowds or stabbing strangers: the news has fuelled their schizophrenia, their delusional outbursts.”
The German authorities have also warned about Salafists attempting to recruit in asylum centres. Last year the government said they had recorded at least 340 cases of Islamists attempting to recruit in asylum homes across the country.
The mental health of asylum seekers has also come to the forefront of national discussion in Germany after a Palestinian asylum seekers stabbed one man to death and injured several others at a supermarket in Hamburg earlier this month.
Whilst the man, identified as 26-year-old Ahmad A., was a known Islamist, many blamed the state of his mental health for the attack. Further allegations came forward stating that not only did police have the attacker on a watch list but they had even attempted to recruit him an informant to spy on the local Islamist scene for them.