Research Topic

Mental Health and Wellbeing: From Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Immigrants to Professionals and Volunteers

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The phenomenon of forced migration has increased worldwide and requires changes and adaptations for individuals and host communities. A massive arrival of migrants estimated at 1.5 million people have illegally entered the EU in 2015, representing the European migrant crisis. Exposure to pre-migration, during ...

The phenomenon of forced migration has increased worldwide and requires changes and adaptations for individuals and host communities. A massive arrival of migrants estimated at 1.5 million people have illegally entered the EU in 2015, representing the European migrant crisis. Exposure to pre-migration, during migration, and post-migration stressors increase the risk of mental disorders in refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants. Many refugees and immigrants are severely traumatised before their migration (victims of political struggles, conflicts and collective catastrophic violence, terrorism, genocide, torture including rape, with primary or secondary war trauma experiences). Special attention is required for the most vulnerable, including children and adolescents and those unaccompanied or separated from their nuclear family members or orphaned.

Traditional treatment of mental disorders of traumatised people has focused on PTSD. Less is known about secondary trauma in professionals and volunteers working with or assisting traumatised victims. In addition, orientation towards positive mental health and wellbeing is recently salient.

Host countries struggle with the burden of imminent needs of refugees and there are several questions about long-term perspective as well. Eventually, the question of mental health issues becomes important since negative mental health (mental disorders) diminishes individual functionality and the ability to cope with stress due to adaptation to the new environment and culture. The interventions designed and offered to refugees and professionals/volunteers to support positive mental health and wellbeing and to prevent or treat mental health disorders could be different in each county (due to differences in the organisation of services), but some problems are more or less the same. The refugees and immigrants could have their own culturally influenced and effective ways of coping with mental health issues. The international exchange of information on acceptable approaches, effective interventions, best practices, treatment etc. are of extreme value with special emphasis on programmes for children and adolescents.

Specific interventions to work with refugees and immigrants among multidisciplinary health care providers, from specific mental health screening tools, psychoeducation, preventative interventions, strategies for leading to better health and wellbeing, community capacity building and empowerment and treatment, in the form of ‘front line’ experience, best practice and studies are welcome.


Keywords: forced migration, trauma, mental disorder, psychopathology, treatment, wellbeing


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