• asylum seekers;
  • mental health;
  • refugees;
  • suicide;
  • suicide risk

This is the first in a two-part series of papers examining mental health issues for refugees and asylum seekers. Beginning with the suicide of an asylum seeker in Scotland, the paper emphasizes mental health issues for adult and child asylum seekers, stress and memory, suicide, self-harm, risk and protective factors, compulsory health treatments and the prevention of mental illness. It sets the scene for the second paper by drawing implications for nursing practice in the community. Although most literature on refugee and asylum seeker mental health exists outside of nursing scholarship, a majority of the issues reviewed in this paper are mutual challenges for all in the health and helping professions. Nurses interested in refugee and migration issues face two intertwined challenges: that of how to assist migrants with their diverse mental health needs and how, at the same time, to contribute to a society that can promote mental health for all by taking on both the difficulties and opportunities posed by cultural diversity.