Psychiatry across borders working group

In July 2016, during the 24th EFPT forum in Antwerp, Belgium, a psychiatry trainee named Dimitris Mpalaris stood up during the working group session and proposed to create a new group, dealing with mental health of forcibly displaced persons, asylum seekers and refugees. Interesting and very contemporary topic !

Indeed, the number of individuals facing forced displacement each year has unfortunately been increasing. We all hear about the numerous armed conflicts and economically poor countries facing huge social issues. In Europe, as psychiatry trainees, we are more and more in contact with patients escaping from these difficult life conditions. But are we prepared to take care of them in a right and adapted way ? What are the specific needs of these populations and how can we improve the training of Psychiatric trainees in Europe, in order to take better care of them ?

These questions, related with transcultural psychiatry, trauma, organization of mental health care systems etc. motivated a lot of psychiatry trainees to join, thanks to whom we are nowadays an active working group of 22 members composed of trainees out of nearly as many different European countries: Dimitris Mpalaris (Greece), our chair, Irina Frankova (Ukrain) and Ugur Cikrikçili (Turkey), our two co-chairs, Costin Matei (Germany), Giulia Menculini (Italy), Boutsikos Cosmas (Greece), George Stercu (Romania), Camille Noël (Belgium), Anca Livia Popescu (Romania), Karl Scheeres (United Kingdom), Wim Du Hayon (Belgium), Taulant Jupe (Albania), Caroline Bevolat (France), Vlastela Stela (Macedonia), Suada Elezi, Kallina Iliou (Greece), Sophia Papa (United Kingdom ), Andra Isac (Romania), Marie Liégois (Belgium), Konstantinos Fountoulakis (Greece), Zetti Azureen Azvee (Ireland) and Laura Kremers (Belgium).

One of our main goals this year was to create an EFPT Refugee and Mental Health Trainee Survey, in order to get feedback from psychiatric trainees regarding their experience and knowledge of issues related to the mental health of refugees and trauma prevention in this population. Do trainees have previous training in this regard? Do they feel confident assessing and treating mental health disorders in refugees according? What kind of experiences of working with refugees do they have? This is only a small portion of the questions in this survey. We anticipate that training in that field is insufficient and the answers form trainees can help to detect and point out problematic zones. We also collected information about already existing health care systems in Europe providing help for refugees in Europe, in order to improve our knowledge about the medical and social actors in this field and to create further on partnerships with them. Last but not least, we tried to understand how and where trainees can reach information about acquiring appropriate skills for working with migrants, in order to improve their access to this training.

If you’re interested to join us or if you want some more information about our working group, feel free to write us on this adress:

By Laura Kremers, Costin Matei and Irina Frankova for the PAB-WG