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Cross-culturally sensitive psychological support for asylum seekers suffering from severe mental health problems

Over the course of three years, 177 asylum seekers suffering from severe mental health problems benefitted from one-to-one psychological support.

Project dates 01/01/2009 - 30/12/2011
Total budget€270 000
EU contribution50%
Name of the entity managing the projectRed Cross Luxembourg

Project Description

Many asylum seekers are in need of mental health support. In Luxembourg, many received help through this project between 2009 and 2011. The support is offered on three different levels, varying in intensity and depending on the severity of the symptoms and the vulnerability of the asylum seeker: on an individual basis, in a group based for asylum seekers living in collective housing, and in occupational rehabilitation and social integration. Key features of the programme include early detection of mental health issues, swift assistance to ensure access to appropriate care, and continued support within communal housing.

The overall goal is to establish a joint strategy with the asylum seekers, taking into account the mental health problems and required care as well as the person’s individual capabilities, culture, interests, and education. Asylum seekers suffering from all diagnostic categories of mental health problems, from reactive depression, post-traumatic stress disorder to severe psychiatric disorders were eligible to benefit.

The project was located in a reception centre for asylum applicants, and was conducted by only one professional – a psychologist who works in close collaboration with the social workers and the team managing the reception centre.

Benefits and results

The demand for support exceeded all expectations, with 41 asylum seekers suffering from severe mental health problems benefitting from individual psychological support in 2009, 65 in 2010, and 71 in 2011. The programme established greater awareness of mental health issues among reception centre personnel, and increased networking and collaboration with the national mental health system.

This was the first mental health programme specifically directed towards asylum seekers, and it was considered so valuable that, since 1 January 2012, it has received full funding from the national public budget of the Luxembourg Reception and Integration Agency (OLAI). As a result, this project is now an integral part of the Red Cross Migrants and Refugees department.

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