Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication

Whether people migrate voluntarily, or forced by vulnerable situations such as poverty, or are displaced due to a conflict or a natural disaster, migration entails major adaptations. During migration, people must redefine personal, interpersonal, socioeconomic, cultural and geographic boundaries. This implies a redefinition of the individual, family, group and collective identities, roles and value systems and may be a source of stress for the individual, the family and the communities involved. Providing psychosocial support to migrant populations in educational, cultural, community, religious and primary health settings reduces vulnerabilities, and prevents their stagnation.

IOM has provided mental health and psychosocial support to migrants and host communities since 1999 and created MHPSS capacity-building initiatives for migration, humanitarian, health and psychosocial professionals. By working with partners and key stakeholders, IOM aims to strengthen the capacity of relevant psychosocial services provided to vulnerable migrants, including crisis-affected populations in emergency and post-emergency settings. IOM has implemented programmes dedicated to improving the availability and quality of psychosocial support in over 45 countries worldwide.

IOM has worked closely with governments, international organizations and civil society to extend its impact within the last years, resulting in the following estimates:

  • 42 ongoing projects/activities
  • Active projects in more than 30 countries
  • 700,000 beneficiaries up to the end of 2015

In 2016, psychosocial support programmes are active, inter alia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Greece, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Syrian Arab Republic, South Sudan, Turkey and many others.
The mental health and psychosocial support services of IOM serve migrant, host, displaced, mobile and crisis-affected populations, including former combatants in a variety of community settings, including in camps in emergencies.
Some specific activities include:

  • Capacity-building for professionals, governments, agencies and IOM departments through:
    • Assessments, analysis and research;
    • Knowledge dissemination initiatives, including conferences;
    • Workshops, summer schools, masters programmes;
    • Development of policy papers and guidelines.​
  • Direct service provision to the populations through:
    • Mobile units;
    • Counselling, recreational, community, resources centres;
    • Direct assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants.
  • Development of an international expert network in:

Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo*, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, Myanmar, Nepal, the Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Republic of Korea, Serbia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Syrian Arab Republic, United Republic of Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen.

*References to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).