Developing a culturally sensitive mental health intervention for asylum seekers in the Netherlands : a pilot study

Introduction: This pilot study investigated asylum seekers’ needs and expectations in the mental health field to develop a culturally sensitive psychosocial intervention.


Method: Participants were residents of a certain asylum-seekers centre in the Netherlands, with most of them from the Middle East crisis. Needs and expectations were identified using therapy expectations questionnaire (11 participants) and two focus groups (17 participants).


Results: Participants associated mental health problems with post-migration stressors more often than with past traumatic experiences. Often, health problems were silenced due to shame, guilt, anxiety and the fear of negative stigma. Individuals and communities were limited in their ability to provide support for those suffering from psychosocial distress due to heavy stigma and the burden of multiple stressors.


Conclusion: We underscore the importance of considering the local knowledge of mental health in developing emergency interventions and emphasise the need to reach beyond the trauma-focused approach to strengthen capacities within the community.

Ortal Slobodin, Samrad Ghane & Joop T.V.M. De Jong | 2018
In: Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas, ISSN 1571-8883 | 16 | 2 | July | 86-94
Asylum Seekers, Mental health, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychosocial support, Refugees
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