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Project aims to improve preventive mental health care for asylum seekers at reception centres

Publication date 3.3.2014 12.13
News item

Asylum seekers’ experiences in their home country as well as their current situation can cause damage to their mental wellbeing, which in turn can decrease their chances of coping independently.

In 2014, the Reception Unit at the Finnish Immigration Service will lead a new project which aims to improve mental health care in reception centres.

The project, titled MIELIVOK, adopts a preventive frame of reference in order to improve mental health care in reception centres.

Preventive mental health care is, for the most part, realised outside the mental health care services provided on medical grounds. A big part of the preventive mental health care takes place, for example, in day care, schools, organisations and social services and, after the start of the project, also in reception centres.

Training for staff at reception centres

During the project, the staff at the reception centres will be offered comprehensive training in preventive mental health care.

The training will cover typical issues concerning the mental health and mental problems of asylum seekers. Identification of such problems, plans of action and their implementation is examined from a preventive point of view.

The goal is to make use of the training in the everyday activities of the reception centres.

Training material for asylum seekers

In addition to training staff at the reception centres, the project will also provide training material for asylum seekers. The material will describe the Finnish society and legislation, working life in Finland, equality and sexual health. It will also include advice on how asylum seekers can take care of their well-being and ability to manage as well as their nourishment and own economy.

The material is to be integrated into the work and study activities. The reception centres arrange work and study activities for adult asylum seekers in order to support their self-motivation and ability to cope. Work and study activities may include for instance studying Finnish, cleaning common spaces and working in the garden.

The intention is to distribute the material at the training events for groups. According to the plans, the training will start at the beginning of 2015. The material can also be used for individual guidance.

The aim of the training material and the training events is to encourage asylum seekers to use their initiative and to support their ability to cope in everyday life, both during and after the processing of their asylum application.

A collaborative project

The project will be carried out as a collaboration between the Finnish Immigration Service, reception centres and their partners.

The Finnish Immigration Service will plan, lead and coordinate the project. The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will train staff at the reception centres. Together with the reception centres, the Finnish Association for Mental Health, the Family Federation of Finland (Väestöliitto) and the Martha Organization (Marttaliitto) will compile and test the information material intended for asylum seekers.

Reception centres in Oulu, Helsinki, Metsälä, Mänttä-Vilppula and Turku will take part in the project. Also a project called HAPKE, which is partially financed by the European Refugee Fund and administered by the national assistance system for victims of trafficking within the Joutseno reception centre, will participate in the project.

The project to improve preventive mental health care in reception centres (MIELIVOK) continues until the end of 2014.

Further information for the media

Senior Adviser Olli Snellman, Reception Unit, tel. 0295 430 431,

Press release