Report: Indefinite Despair

The tragic mental health consequences of offshore processing on Nauru

NAURU - MSF forced to end its Mental Health activities

NAURU 2018 © Sean Brokenshire/MSF

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided mental health care on the Pacific island of Nauru for 11 months, before being forced to leave by the Nauruan government in October 2018. This report analyses MSF’s medical data from Nauru, which demonstrates extreme mental health suffering on the island.

Close to one-third of MSF’s refugee and asylum seeker patients had attempted suicide, while 12 patients were diagnosed with the rare psychiatric condition of ‘resignation syndrome’. Nauruan nationals also had high levels of severe mental illness; almost half of MSF’s Nauruan patients needed treatment for psychosis.

The data shows that the mental health suffering on Nauru is among the worst MSF has ever seen, including in projects providing care for victims of torture.

MSF calls for an end to Australia’s offshore processing policy and for the immediate evacuation of all refugee and asylum seekers from Nauru—men, women, and children. Refugees and asylum seekers must have fast access to permanent resettlement, alongside their families, so that they can begin rebuilding their mental health.


Nauru: MSF report shows disastrous mental health impact of Australian refugee policy