Via MSF.org: Sweden: MSF begins working with asylum seekers. Excerpt:
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) began supporting asylum seekers in Götene municipality in Sweden with mental health and psycho-social activities, on Monday. The project comes following an assessment of asylum seekers’ needs in Sweden and uses an innovative and culturally sensitive model of care that prioritises early intervention.
Working alongside an existing network of volunteers, the project seeks to highlight the need for mental health services for asylum seekers in the country and prove MSF’s model of mental health care in Europe.
A normal reaction to an abnormal situation
“Many asylum seekers in Sweden are suffering from mental health problems simply because they’ve suffered too much. In many cases they’ve lived in constant fear for months or years before making it to safety, they’ve endured unspeakable violence, they’ve lost family members, they’ve risked their lives at sea and they’ve put up with an undignified welcome here in Europe,” said Jenny Gustafsson, MSF project coordinator in Götene.
“Their symptoms are completely normal reactions to the abnormal situation they find themselves in but there are clear gaps in mental health services for them in Sweden. As MSF, we have the expertise and resources required to provide the care they need, so we’ve decided to jump in alongside Swedish civil society groups, the local municipality and health care authorities to contribute.”
MSF has increasingly focused on mental health care and in 2015 offered psychosocial support to more than 220,000 patients all over the world, including in many of the countries those seeking asylum in Sweden originally fled or passed through on their journey north through Europe.
Mental health needs among asylum seekers are higher than in the general population, mainly due to the trauma and uncertainty they’ve experienced, but can be managed with the right care.