IOM Norway Training Focuses on Mental Health, Well-being of Migrants

Posted: 
03/10/17
Themes: 
Capacity Building, Migration Health

Norway - IOM, in partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH), this week organized a series of trainings designed help to improve migrant mental health and psychosocial well-being in Norway.

The week-long series of seminars, workshops and trainings was geared towards improving the knowledge and skills of members of the Norwegian NGO community, academics and professionals working with vulnerable groups, including migrants.

The programme was led by Guglielmo Schinina, IOM’s Head of Global Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication. He explained that migrants have mental health needs just as non-migrant populations do, but they also face a number of extraordinary stressors which can adversely affect their well-being and make their integration into society more difficult. 

“Most importantly, we cannot forget that mental health, as with any form of health, is a right for migrants as much as it is for non-migrant populations,” he said. 

One of the highlights of the joint IOM-NIPH sessions was the in-depth exchanges concerning the objectification of migration and the myths surrounding “healthy migrants” and “vulnerable migrants”. The discussion therefore focused on ways to work on the resilience of host communities to be accepting of migrants as much as to help migrants in need.

A separate round-table discussion focused on the inclusion of migrants in the arts with the aim of creating a network to develop social theatre to identify and address the psychosocial needs of the migrant community.

Once a predominant focus on mental problems and “trauma”, psychosocial intervention has now shifted to strengthening resilience and social support.

Steve Hamilton, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Norway, explained why strengthening the capacity of the community through a dedicated series of events dedicated to migrant mental health and psychosocial well-being is beneficial.

“IOM’s commitments are to all migrants in a community and therefore extend to the community as a whole.  Within any community there are those with mental health concerns that need to be addressed in a timely manner. So enhancing an overall ability to support, and better understand, these individuals is essential,” he noted.

IOM created its first psychosocial program in 1998, followed by the creation of a unit in 2000 and finally by the foundation of a global section at its headquarters in 2009.

In just the past two years, IOM has provided mental health and psychosocial support to more than 720,000 migrants, displaced persons, and conflict-affected individuals in 32 countries, and trained 4,500 professionals worldwide.

For further information please contact Sigurd Tvete at IOM Norway, Tel +47 406 749 86, Email: stvete@iom.int