Symposium “Healthy mind, better integration”

On the 12th of December 2019 the Health[e]Foundation organized the Symposium “Healthy mind, better integration” at the Amsterdam UMC, about care for mental health for refugees and newcomers in The Netherlands. An enthusiastic and diverse audience, inspiring guest speakers Pim Scholte, Larissa van Beek, and Falah Sabouni, pitch presenters of In My Backyard, Zorgcafé Amsterdam en Alles Goed and an expert moderator plus panelists, shared their expertise and knowledge on early recognition of mental health problems from refugees and newcomers.

Preventive interventions and inclusion strategies were presented and discussed, all on how to improve the mental health of refugees and newcomers and how to facilitate better integration. The one thing we all agreed upon was the enormous resilience of newcomers and their perseverance. The approach should be to focus on their strengths instead of problems.

Participants from a variety of organizations and institutions discussed the opportunities and barriers refugees and newcomers face during their integration in Dutch society. The most common mental problems among refugees are depression, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Situations triggering these conditions are loneliness and the lack of a social network. A preventive approach, focused on participation, social support, cohesion, the help of the neighborhood and cooperation between different organizations are the ingredients to strengthen the integration and psychological resilience of refugees and newcomers. Together we are stronger.

As concluded by Professor of Global Migration, Ethnicity & Health Charles Agyemang “Promoting healthy mind in migrants and refugees is a win-win for all and should be a top priority”.

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the symposium and Stichting Diorapthe and Dr. C. J. Vaillantfonds for the financial support to bring everyone together and have this successful and inspiring symposium!