Mental health is a prominent issue that the majority of asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants experience in Greece due not only to the conditions they faced in their country of origin or their journey towards the host country, but most importantly to the conditions they experience in the host country. The endless waiting for an asylum interview, the inhumane living conditions in the Reception & Identification Centers in the islands as well as the lack of proper accommodation, integration program, employability prospects and education opportunities put a strain on the refugee/immigrant population that usually effects their mental health.
The advocacy strategy of the GFR did not refer only to the need of sufficient mental health services that can cover all of the refugee/migrant population, as most of the INGO’s and NGO’s advocate for, but, coming from a grassroots level, the GFR addressed the issue of the quality of those services too.
This is exactly what the ERMES (Effective and Respectful Mental Health Support) project is striving for and this is what paved the way to our concrete advocacy strategy towards authorities and relevant stakeholders.
The ERMES is a Greek Forum of Refugees (GFR) project that has as a main objective to involve qualified Community Interpreters/Cultural Mediators in mental health care procedures, facilitating refugees’ access to these services and enhancing the relation between the mental health professional and the beneficiary.
Apart from the specialized training that the participants receive they are also emerge as committed advocates for mental health issues.