Toronto Metropolitan University
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The 'Good' refugee is traumatized: post-traumatic stress disorder as a measure of credibility in the Canadian refugee determination system

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posted on 2021-05-24, 18:29 authored by Chantal Spade
Through a social construction theoretical framework, it is explored how the Immigration and Refugee Board utilizes a diagnosis of PTSD as a measure of credibility during the refugee determination process, and how this is deemed problematic due to the barriers that exist for the refugee population in the mental health system. This research project was framed around two primary research question: (1)how does a mental health diagnosis of PTSD impact the refugee determination process in Canada? And, (2) is a diagnosis of PTSD for a refugee claimant accurate and appropriate? Semi-structured elite interviews were conducted with health care professionals who interact with the refugee population in Toronto. The findings indicate that there is an identifiable paradox between PTSD being utilized as a measure of credibility and PTSD being a social construction that is rendered inappropriate for individuals who originate in a non-Western culture. This research project demonstrates the existence of the paradox by analyzing the multi-faceted barriers that refugee claimants face in proving that their stories are credible, and the barriers in the accessibility and delivery of mental health care in Canada.





  • Master of Arts


  • Immigration and Settlement Studies

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP