Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continued to provide psychological care and psychosocial support to migrants and refugees living in or transiting through Belgium in 2018.
Many migrants and refugees arriving in Europe have suffered traumatic experiences in their countries of origin and on their journeys, which have taken a toll on their mental health. Inadequate asylum, reception, and integration policies in destination countries exacerbate these psychological vulnerabilities and often cause further trauma and deterioration of their mental health.
In 2018, we provided psychosocial support in collective and individual housing projects for asylum seekers in the Belgian municipalities of Charleroi, Morlanwelz, and Roeselare. Activities included mental health screening, in-depth assessments, psychoeducation, follow-up sessions, and recreational activities to promote general well-being.
Our teams also assisted migrants living outside the formal reception system, many of whom were transiting through Belgium trying to reach other destinations. These people have an uncertain legal status and often end up living in dire conditions, increasing the risk of new mental health issues on top of existing trauma.
In September 2017, we teamed up with six other organizations to offer a complete package of services in a ‘humanitarian hub’ in Brussels. These services include medical and mental health care, family tracing, socio-legal advice, and the distribution of clothes. Our team actively participates in the management of the project and provides mental health care. We conducted more than 1,800 individual consultations in the hub, with 448 patients in 2018. The majority of these patients were men from Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.