Initiatives supporting Asylum Seeker’s residing in camps Mental Health.

Collaboration between researchers and NGOs organizing empowerment activities for people during flight, can provide a more holistic understanding of the mental health needs and experiences of those people; identify effective strategies for promoting mental health and well-being among migrants and reduce stigma around mental health problems. By bridging the gap between research and practical experience, these synergies can lead to more effective and sustainable programs that address the unique needs and challenges faced by people on the move

A recent study by research fellow Michalis Lavdas and professor Gro Mjeldheim Sandal both at the University of Bergen (UiB), and professor Eugene Guribye at Norce, aimed at further understanding how Afghan refugees perceive and explain depression and psychological distress and how this influences their choices for coping strategies and help-seeking.

The results of the study showed that “Depression was explained as reactions to experiences before and after flight. The experience of the living conditions in camp settings was strongly associated with depressive symptoms. Female participants identified gender-based and domestic violence as contributing to psychological distress, while males highlighted conflict and persecution. Life in the camp, with associated inactivity and uncertainty for the future, was perceived as a significant risk factor for psychological distress among both females and males. In terms of coping strategies, females tended to focus on mobilizing collective resources within the camp (e.g. safe space for women facilitating shared activities and emotional support), while males advocated for self-empowerment and solution-oriented coping. The value of engagement in peer helper-roles was highlighted.”

Being in a refugee camp for lprolonged periods contributes to depression among refugees and asylum seekers according to our recent study in Greece which has just been published. The study emphasis the importance of scaling up mental health care and psychosocial support for inhabitants in the camps, advocating for policies actively promoting life in the community, and actively engaging directly with building resources among refugee communities .” says Mr Lavdas.

To address these mental health challenges, scaling up mental health care and psychosocial support, advocating for policies that promote the living conditions  in the camps and building resources among refugee communities are all possible solutions. In the interim, mobilization and empowerment activities can also significantly promote psychological health and support the recovery of people  affected by displacement and migration. These activities provide a sense of normalcy and routine, encourage social connections and a sense of community, and offer a distraction from daily life challenges.

A Drop in the Ocean is helping to support the mental health and well-being of people forced to flee by offering such activities in the different places where we operate in Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In addition to all our activities we welcome research and initiatives backing to our work.

We want to thank Michalis Lavdas, Eugene Guribye, Gro Mjeldheim and the University of Bergen (UiB), for their collaboration and trust in our participation in their research. Our purpose is not only to support people forced to flee, but to further enhance through our work to better living conditions of those people and, if possible, to promote social change.