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Professional support in mental health care for refugees in Flanders

The King Baudouin Foundation hopes to develop the skills of all professionals who are in some way involved with the mental health of refugees. The Foundation hopes to do this by offering a broad range of high-quality educational courses and trainings. Supporting professionals must lead to prevention and early detection of trauma. It must also lead to accessible and efficient psychosocial treatment of child and/or adult refugees.

Fleeing from conflict or post-conflict zones, the asylum procedure, culture shock and the acculturation process are all potential circumstances which can lead to ‘trauma’, in the broad tense of the word. Especially, when they are experienced around the same time. Fortunately, we can also speak of resilience. Resilience is the potential each of us possesses to continue to grow and develop, despite of unfortunate circumstances. This potential must be used. Especially by people who put their primary survival mechanisms in place due to “abnormal” circumstances around them. Indirect players in the field of mental health care, the so-called preliminary and primary care, are often in a position to address this resilience. They are also able to build a network around the refugee and encourage resilience. They also have the ability to detect psychosocial issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, in an early stage.

Unprocessed trauma does not only affect the life of the person who is experiencing it, but also the life of those around him/her. It also affects society on different aspects, like socially, economically and financially. That is why a higher level of expertise of the national professionals in the mental health care is necessary. It must lead to more targeted, preventative and accessible therapeutic interventions in order to avoid suffering on both a personal and social level.

Fact Sheets

Solentra summarised the content of the courses within this project on eight fact sheets. These fact sheets address the core topics concerning refugee mental health. They are the result of a collaboration between Solentra and a number of professionals in the field, namely Geertrui Serneels, Koen Van Praet, Birsin Taspinar, Winny Ang and Stéphanie De Maesschalck. The sheets were realised with the financial support of the King of Baudouin Foundation. These are as follows:

  1. Culturally sensitive care
  2. Identity
  3. The PACCT® method
  4. Psycho-social first aid
  5. Language support
  6. Trauma in refugees
  7. The perception of sickness and culture
  8. Care for the carer: self-care

Solentra would also like to thank the King Baudouin Foundation for its confidence in us taking on a leading role.

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