‘When you don’t doubt, you don’t use the benefit of the doubt’: understanding barriers to asylum seeking with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Netherlands.
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Those seeking asylum are disproportionately affected by poor mental health, in particular often displaying symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through content analysis of key legal and policy documents and conducting semi-structured interviews with professionals involved in supporting asylum seekers, this research analyses how those with symptoms of PTSD are accounted for by the Immigration en Naturalisatiedienst (IND), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and healthcare professionals during their asylum procedure in the Netherlands. Academically, this study aims to take an innovative stance on exploring asylum seekers’ support throughout their procedure whilst experiencing trauma, by utilising data triangulation in combination with Fassin’s (2013) and Legido-Quigley et al’s (2019) theoretical frameworks. This will provide an in-depth, interdisciplinary insight into how the current system can be improved in order to better account for the challenges introduced by PTSD symptoms, thus providing enhanced support for asylum seekers throughout their procedure. The findings demonstrate that whilst there exists legislation and policy with which to guide support for those with PTSD, in practice this is hindered by structural constraints and differing approaches by the IND, NGOs and healthcare professionals. This results in significant power imbalances between professionals and asylum seekers, as well as amongst professionals. For future practice to reform, an individualised asylum procedure, stronger multilateral communication and training is needed in order to be able to better support traumatised asylum seekers through an extremely turbulent period.