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More transparent mental health work and better mental health expertise at reception centres

26.7.2021 9.21

The Finnish Immigration Service is continually developing its mental health services within the reception system. The Psyyke project team has offered training for the staff at reception centres and issued guidance on the mental health work carried out at reception centres.

Reception centre staff provide a wide range of activities that support the client’s mental health, identify problems and assist in resolving problems. If necessary, clients are referred to health care providers outside the reception centre and specialised mental health services.

Training to improve mental health expertise at reception centres

The aim of the training programme of the Psyyke project has been to continue the mental health training that was already provided prior to the project and to organise new training of topical issues. 

The training programme includes an introduction to various methods and structures suitable for the reception centre environment, such as psychological first aid.

“We decided to focus on strengthening the competencies in the basic themes and areas in the mental health field, which can then be utilised in practical work. It was important to match the content of the training with the guidance provided as part of the project”, says Kaisa Rontu, Senior Adviser.

Two training events were held in Lahti and Helsinki before the pandemic, with the third and final live training event having to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.  The event was replaced by online training courses, which were held in May 2021. The feedback from the reception staff on the training was positive.

“We will investigate in the future if we could organise more specific and specialised training to the different reception centre staff groups and, for example, training on short-term psycho-social intervention and common factors affecting the efficacy of interventions”, says Rontu.

New guidance to support mental health work within the reception system

In addition to training, the project team also produced a guidance for mental health work at reception centres. The guidance explains what mental health work at reception centres means, what it involves and how it is practiced.

The guidance also aims to increase awareness among reception centre staff of the impact of their mental health work and to apply the national mental health strategy within the reception system.

“The purpose of the guidance is to ensure that the mental health work carried out at reception centres is professionally competent and is as effective as possible under current evidence-based practices. The guidance only contains measures that are feasible for the reception centre environment. The guidance serves as a compilation of previous instructions on mental health issues”, says Rontu.

Psyyke – development project on the mental health expertise among reception centre staff has received funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for the period 1 March 2019–30 June 2021.

Further information for the media

Kaisa Rontu, Senior Adviser, Reception Unit, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: f[email protected]