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“Babel” - Day Centre for migrants’ mental health

Day Centre Babel provides mental health services to migrants (individuals, families and groups) of all ages in the community. Day care and rehabilitation interventions  are carried out in hours and days that are  dictated by the needs. There is an effort to mobilize  community resources  in order to meet multiple and complex needs of people. Much is done at the level of community sensitization and the support  of other professional categories that work with this  group. Key principles are: respect to cultural diversity, networking, mediation, focus on strengths, comprehensive approach.

Issue/challenge and goal/assumption

The main challenge is to make Babel accessible to the target population and, through this, make accessible appropriate care for people in need. Babel is the only unit of the kind and many of the mental health needs of migrants remain unmet or are approached in a not appropriate manner. The main characteristics of the clinical approach are: the possibility of receiving requests without discrimination, the creation of a network of referrals and collaboration, the individualised approach and a personal care plan that is organised and implemented taking account the three identities of the people: cultural diversity, migration, mental health problem.
Cultural competence and linguistic facilitation are of major importance in order to achieve the goals met. Thus, permanent training of the staff in these issues is needed.

How does it work

The practice involves the following actions:

  • Diagnosis, treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation of people with mental disorders
  • Continuing care and follow up of people with mental disorders
  • Day care services
  • Personalised escort services for the support of those attending other services
  • Counseling for individuals, families, groups and organisations
  • Linguistic facilitation and cultural mediation
  • Public awareness campaigns on mental health issues
  • Sensitisation of key persons and organisations to the specific issues or difficulties associated with the mental health needs and problems of immigrants.
  • Training of professionals from mental health and other sectors in culturally competent mental health care


Up to the end of September 2011, more than 1200 requests have been addressed, 750 persons have been taken in charge by Babel staff and 8000 interventions have been activated (clinical, rehabilitative etc) at individual and group levels.
Babel staff has contacted 200 agencies that either work with or can become accessible to migrants and has established networks capable to cover a wide range of the needs of this population.
The number of volunteers involved in Babel's activities are 37 and trainees that have participated in various training activities are more than 200.


Evaluation methods have both quantitative and qualitative characteristics. Specifically:
The internal assessment is diffused in the daily operation of the Centre and is carried out by the staff. Once a year, the Scientific Officer and the staff participate in the writing of an evaluation report in which the results of a focus group interview with external evaluators are taken into account. A data base is used in which all activities are monitored (clinical and others) as resource. Babel is considered a valuable resource by other agencies and many migrants. Networking should be a goal since the first moment of operation.

Who will benefit?

Migrants (undocumented, refugees, economic and asylum seekers), of all ages, living in Athens.
Professionals from other sectors (health, education, public administration etc.) working with migrants.
Coverage of the programme depends on requests from target population.

Source of funding and Resources used

At the beginning (2008) «Babel» was financed by EU and greek state funds (COMMUNITY SUPPORT FRAMEWORK GREECE 2000-2006).
After the first year it is funded by the Greek Ministry of Health. Part of the activities are funded through donations coming from privates and a small part from funds coming from ERF (2010, 2011).
The annual budget amounts at 450.000,00 Eur.
At Babel the staff consists of 12 professionals: psychiatrist, 4 psychologists, 2 social workers, 2 administrative, sociologist, health visitor, nurse). There is also a sufficient number of linguistic mediators (a crucial resource), many volunteers, undergraduate and postgraduate students as trainees.


NGO Syn Eirmos
Nikos Gionakis
Head of unit

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