You must provide help for the complicated and multifaceted problem of refugee mental health World Refugee Day. We’re looking at the history of refugee mental health and some of the contemporary problems that refugees and asylum seekers confront in honor of World Refugee Day, a day set aside by the UN to honor the bravery and tenacity of refugees everywhere.
We will also inform you about the FutureLearn courses that we have developed in collaboration with our knowledgeable university partners. These courses will teach you the principles of working in humanitarian aid and refugee support as well as the therapeutic aspect of mental health work.
Finding mentally stimulating activities is essential for many refugees to overcome mental health concerns resulting from a lack of social, professional, and educational opportunities in their adoptive countries. Therefore, we’ve also emphasized the free online courses offered by FutureLearn to refugees and internally displaced individuals.
We chatted with Kama Petruczenko, Policy and Research Officer at the UK Refugee Council, to gain some expert insight.
Explore the Contents
- 1 The reality of refugee mental health World Refugee Day
- 2 What causes displacement?
- 3 What happens when people are forced to flee?
- 4 What mental health challenges do refugees face?
- 5 What support is available for refugee mental health?
- 6 Free online courses for refugees and displaced people
- 7 How can you help refugees?
- 8 I’m interested in working with refugees – how can I get involved?
The reality of refugee mental health World Refugee Day
Kama Petruczenci began by presenting us with the sobering realities of the mental health of refugees and the challenges they face in the UK.
According to Petruczenko, “two-thirds of asylum seekers experience serious mental distress and are five times more likely to have mental health needs than the UK population.”
Furthermore, she claims that the present refugee crises in the UK—the crossings of the Channel and those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine—bring with them unique demands and traumas.
“In order to process everything they have gone through, the severely traumatized women and children arriving from Ukraine will require substantial professional support. Additionally, in order to assist the bereaved Ukrainian families, individuals who welcome migrants must receive training.
She claims that the harsh asylum laws in the UK may increase stress and anxiety among individuals who are fleeing over the Channel.
“We see an increase in detention, fewer protections for survivors of human trafficking, and children whose age is disputed.”
“The terrible effects these policies are having on people’s health and wellbeing are evident. Frequently, our clients inform us that what they really need is for someone to believe them and listen to them.
Take our course, Volunteering with Refugees, offered by Cambridge University Press, or Work Supportively with Refugees, offered by the University of Glasgow, if you’re interested in pursuing a career aiding the displaced.
What causes displacement?
Violence, whether it takes the form of political violence and torture, civil war between religious or ethnic groups, gang violence and criminality, or political violence, may be the most frequent cause of displacement.
The media has extensively covered the recent crises in South Sudan, Ukraine, and Syria as well as the large-scale emigration of those escaping the carnage. There are also more crisis situations throughout the world that get less media attention yet have equally devastating effects, such as the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray area.
Persecution, intercommunal conflict, and economic difficulties have also contributed to significant instability in other regions, such as Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Myanmar.
There are also long-term circumstances, like Afghanistan, where 2.7 million people are long-term displaced due to decades of conflict and misery.
Other factors that contribute to uprooting and running away include hunger, the consequences of climate change, and prejudice against LGBTQIA+ individuals.
People are forced to uproot their life in order to locate a place of safety, whether it be abroad or inside their own nation, leaving behind their homes, jobs, schools, and loved ones in each case.
Global displacement statistics
According to the most recent Global Trends report from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which was released in June 2023, there were over 108.4 million forcibly displaced individuals worldwide at the end of 2022.
Compared to the previous year, this is a 19 million growth in population, surpassing that of Ecuador, the Netherlands, or Somalia. It is the biggest year-over-year increase that UNHCR has ever documented.
When that number is broken down, the data show that over 62 million of those affected are internally displaced (those who have been uprooted within their own nation), 29.4 million are refugees (those who have been found to require international protection), and 5.4 million are asylum-seekers (those who have been granted asylum in a host nation but whose status as refugees has not yet been established).
It is common to encounter minors and unaccompanied youngsters among displaced populations.
Millions of people worldwide are stateless, having been refused citizenship in a nation and living in constant state of uncertainty without access to basic necessities and services like work and healthcare due to their status.
If you’re interested in studying more about population movement, you can take our courses on international migration law at the University of Kent or migration, mobilities, and citizenship at the University of Bristol to hone your critical thinking abilities around the topics.
We also offer two amazing courses that may be of interest to you: Planning for Success in a Conflict Zone, taught by and offered by the University of Bergen, and Global Health, Conflict and Violence.
What happens when people are forced to flee?
When refugees escape their homes, it’s frequently an emergency with little time for planning ahead. Families in Myanmar, for instance, were forced to gather their belongings and go after Rohingya villages were attacked, resulting in the deaths and injuries of residents and the burning of their homes.
Following their forced migration from Myanmar, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya crossed the border into Bangladesh on foot and sought protection in some of the biggest refugee camps on earth.
The primary issues in the Rohingya crisis, as in most humanitarian crises stemming from conflict or natural disasters, are survival. Humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, UNHCR, and UNICEF provide emergency relief, which includes food, water, shelter, and medical supplies.
Aid workers mobilize to register refugees and document any particular requirements they may have. These organizations may be national or international organizations from the nations that are hosting the refugees.
For instance, there can be elderly individuals, infants and small children, expectant mothers, and potential victims of abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence. In order to determine whether someone may require specialized assistance due to trauma, mental health evaluations may also be conducted when feasible.
Local communities may choose to host refugees in certain circumstances. In other cases, tents, sleeping mats, and blankets must be set up as makeshift camps for refugees. When things get bad, refugees are forced to take cover in the open air, under trees, in abandoned buildings, or in temporary shelters they build themselves.
Towns and cities will be the final haven for a large number of displaced persons. For instance, many of the 6.8 million people who left Syria as a result of the conflict, which started in 2011, now reside in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan and had to find housing to rent. They frequently do so by sharing cramped homes with many people.
Some traveled further farther in search of asylum in European nations like Germany, where they were hoping to be placed in transitional accommodations like hostels and refugee shelters.
Enroll in our Humanitarian Action, Response and Relief and Emergency Planning courses offered by the University of Coventry to gain knowledge about working in humanitarian relief catastrophes.
What mental health challenges do refugees face?
A number of mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), suicide thoughts, and other conditions, can affect refugees. These conditions can frequently occur concurrently or overlap.
Mental health is significantly impacted by the circumstances they ran from, the things that happened to them or their friends and family, the experiences they had while in flight and at their place of refuge, and much more.
“Many asylum seekers present with complex mental health needs due to their experiences fleeing war, discrimination, persecution, and torture,” adds Petruczenko.
“Those who fleeing for their lives are frequently severely traumatized, having gone through horrific events and suffered heartbreaking losses.”
Violence is witnessed by many migrants and asylum seekers. Some people have experienced violence themselves. Sexual and gender-based violence can affect women and girls. Some might be escaping poverty, while others may have experienced persecution or discrimination because of their sexual orientation, politics, religion, or ethnicity.
According to Petruczenko, “many have lost their homes, livelihoods, and been separated from loved ones.”
Some people endure torture or other cruel, humiliating treatment. Many travel at extremely difficult times.
Refugees may have been compelled to trek for days on end while in transit, covering vast distances on foot over challenging terrain and weather, such as across mountains or rainforests, in bitter cold or intense heat. In a desperate bid to seek a better life, some people take risky boats across the sea.
People smugglers frequently take advantage of refugees by threatening to harm their families back home, demanding exorbitant amounts of money for safe passage, or even illegally detaining them and mistreating them severely.
Children who are separated from their parents, siblings, or other family members could require special care.
Furthermore, even if asylum seekers travel to a new nation expecting a friendly welcome, they may experience racism, social marginalization, exploitation, and a lack of possibilities for employment, housing, education, and other necessities.
According to Petruczenko, “refugees suffer acute anxiety due to worries about loved ones left behind, the situation in their home country, and the stress of starting over.”
“A lot of refugees worry about finding housing, money, schooling, legal counsel, and the difficult-to-navigate asylum process.
They are afraid of being imprisoned, deported, impoverished, and homeless. The emotional and psychological health of people suffers greatly as a result of all of this.
What support is available for refugee mental health?
Displaced individuals frequently lack access to the same quality of care and assistance from national healthcare systems as citizens due to their legal status.
The ability to send our clients to specialized mental health treatments is one of the main obstacles, according to Petruczenko.
“We are aware of the extreme strain these services are under. In the case of refugees, they need assistance from organizations that specialize in forced migration and are aware of the negative effects that traumatic events can have on the mental health of refugees.
Because it might be difficult for refugees to receive specialized care from providers like the NHS, organizations like the Refugee Council and smaller nonprofits, NGOs, and volunteer programs in the community play a crucial role in assisting in the restoration of refugees’ well-being.
“With the resilience, strength, and skills they have gained on their journeys, refugees can rebuild their lives with the assistance of the Refugee Council, which offers specialized mental health support,” says Petruczenko.
“A variety of evidence-based and best practice approaches are applied by our highly qualified and experienced therapists.”
The Refugee Council offers the following particular methods for addressing mental health issues among refugees:
- Individual counseling provides people with intense support to heal in a secure, private setting.
- Workshops on health and wellbeing, known as psycho-education, aim to encourage refugees in their mutual support, long-term healing, and understanding of their own circumstances.
- Psychosocial organizations that provide refugees with a platform to gather, discuss, and exchange personal experiences with one another
- When they are most vulnerable, intensive casework and crisis intervention are necessary.
Free online courses for refugees and displaced people
The fundamental requirements of all people also apply to refugees. Their goals are to succeed both professionally and academically. However, because of their economic circumstances, refugee status, and displacement, they frequently have restricted access to employment and education, two essential pursuits that keep individuals occupied and intellectually engaged.
Eight short courses have been developed and selected by FutureLearn in collaboration with King’s College London to help refugees, internally displaced individuals, and the communities that support them gain new skills and expand their career prospects through course certifications.
Because the courses are flexible and can be taken on any device, including a mobile phone, you can study them whenever and whenever you choose.
See this free course by clicking here:
- First Basic English: Elementary
- Basic 2: Pre-intermediate English
- Overview of Nursing: The function of nurses worldwide
- Healthcare English
- An overview of business administration
- Business ownership: From concept to implementation in business
- Digital competencies: Adopting digital technologies
- Engineering principles
How can you help refugees?
So what can you do if you’d like to lend a hand and support asylum seekers in their efforts to enhance their mental health? Or if you are currently helping refugees or assisting with them and you observe that they are experiencing mental health issues like PTSD, anxiety, or depression?
“The most important thing is to offer them your time to listen to what they want to share,” says Kama Petruczenko. It’s essential to establish trust and a safe atmosphere.
“Remember not to make commitments you can’t keep. There are numerous organizations that assist refugees, and in order to understand how to interact with and support refugees in a trauma-informed manner, we would recommend professionals to get in touch with the Refugee Council and other specialized NGOs.
More socially, engaging refugees in your regular activities with friends and family, such as playing five-a-side football teams or singing in choirs, can help prevent the kinds of mental health problems that result from boredom and a lack of social interaction.
I’m interested in working with refugees – how can I get involved?
Technical positions like registration, support roles (also called protection roles), which resemble the work of social workers, and more specialized positions like youth work, working with vulnerable individuals, working with victims of violence or sexual assault, and of course mental health and psychosocial provision are some of the pathways into working with refugees.
Working in an office, handling the administrative aspects of refugee work, or in the field, near the front lines of conflict, processing and managing large-scale displacement scenarios are two possible career paths.
Additionally, there are more mainstream job choices, such as teaching, journalism, photography, interpretation, and communications, whose abilities can be applied to refugee work.
Organizations that support refugees are always in need of creatives and experts in digital and social media. Additionally, as donations are the lifeblood of most organizations, any expertise in donor relations, fundraising, and logistics is usually beneficial.
Above all, you must be passionate about assisting refugees and developing your understanding of the circumstances that impact them. which you may accomplish with our expert-led courses.
According to Petruczenko, “working with refugees is incredibly rewarding and we need more people to support their integration.”
“Refugees exhibit incredible humanity and fortitude in the face of hardship, even in the face of unspeakable horrors. They genuinely demonstrate the infinite compassion, understanding, and strength of the human spirit.
“We strive to support them, offer direction and counsel, but we also pick up a lot of knowledge from them every day.”
Therefore, even though the work can be emotionally, psychologically, and occasionally even physically taxing, it’s also the kind of job that makes you feel proud of the difference you’re making in a world that is going through difficult times, and good about the work you’re doing and the people you’re helping.