Between Countries – Perspectives on the Mental Health of Syrian Refugees in Germany and Turkey

Online Event on October 8 and 9

March 2021 marked 10 years of crisis in Syria. In light of this grim anniversary, the German Red Cross and the Turkish Red Crescent want to take a close and nuanced look at the situation of Syrian refugees and their mental health both in Germany and Turkey.

On October 8 and 9 – just before World Mental Health Day –, both Red Cross/Red Crescent societies will jointly host a two-part online event.

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Two-part online event

The event, spanning two half-days, will cover a broad range of subjects: from the mental toll of conflict, the experience of having to flee one’s home and that of arriving in a new country with all the practical, cultural, and emotional challenges this entails, to the crucial question of what kinds of mental health support actually prove useful for those who might need it.

Together with the speakers and participants, we aim to create a forum for discussion and an atmosphere that is sensitive to the complexities of the overall topic and pays tribute to all the people who agreed to share their stories and experiences. Each half-day of the event will consist of joint sessions and a number of break-out sessions to choose from.

We want to bring participants in direct contact with experts of various kinds – be it professional, by personal experience, or by offering support in one way or another – to reflect, discuss, and exchange views.

Day 1: Mental effects of the situation of Syrian refugees

Day 1 will focus on the mental effects of the situation of Syrian refugees, including the most common diagnoses and crucial aspects of the therapeutic setting. Participants will be introduced to the community centres run by the Turkish Red Crescent and their mental health units, and will learn about the Center Überleben, that supports rehabilitation and integration of refugees and migrants in Berlin. We will also get to know Syrians in Germany and Turkey to hear about their stories and gain insights into their living situation.

Day 2: Social environment to provide for good mental health

Day 2 will take a closer look at the broader social environment that is needed to provide for good mental health of Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey. We will approach this issue by speaking about Syrian communities, the situation of Syrian women, legal issues, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.



Event programme

DAY 1 – Therapeutic Perspectives and Personal Stories
12.30 pm – 5.15 pm (CEST)

Welcome (30 min.)

Joint session + Q&A – Introduction to (60 min.)

  • Mental effects of the Syria crisis and of becoming a refugee
  • The three most common diagnoses: anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Break (15 min.)

Video tour of a Turkish Red Crescent Community Centre + Q&A (30 min.)

Breakout Sessions (concurrent) (60 min.)

  • The role of interpreters
  • The holistic approach of the community centres run by the Turkish Red Crescent and an introduction to Center Überleben in Berlin
  • How to create a safe space for therapy?
  • The risks of secondary traumatisation
  • Individual stories and voices of Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey I
  • Individual stories and voices of Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey II

Break (15 min.)

Joint session (60 min.)

  • Reflection on breakout sessions
  • Shifting issues treated in therapy – between arrival and non-arrival

Outlook on DAY 2 + Farewell (15 min.)

 

DAY 2– Perspectives Beyond Therapy: Hurdles, Connectors and Community Support
9.30 am – 2.15 pm (CEST)

Welcome + Recap of DAY 1 (30 min.)

Joint session (60 min.)

  • Panel discussion on the living situation of Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey

Break (15 min.)

Breakout sessions (concurrent) (60 min.)

  • Female perspectives – the situation of Syrian women in Germany and Turkey
  • The legal situation – (protection) status/residency/risk of deportation/access to the labour market
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Syrian refugees in Germany and Turkey (based on recent studies and surveys from both countries)
  • Is there any such thing as one Syrian community in Germany and Turkey? – Syrian networks and social connections

Break (30 min.)

Joint session (75 min.)

  • Reflection on breakout sessions
  • Panel discussion on the question of impactful connectors between actual needs among Syrian refugees and existing mental health services/support
  • Open discussion

Conclusion + Farewell (15 min.)


The event is organized with financial contribution from the German Federal Foreign Office.

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