Improving care and support for migrants and asylum seekers experiencing mental health problems

This project was developed in response to the need for improved mental health services among migrants and asylum seekers in the community.

In particular it seeks to address:

→  The causes and consequences of mental ill-health on the lives of asylum seekers, which include high risk of unemployment, homelessness, substance abuse and suicide, and to assist them to live a stable and dignified life.

→  The need for targeted support to enable individuals to safeguard their psychological health, in the face of the multiple obstacles and challenges they face throughout their life in Malta.

→  The stigmatisation of mental ill-health among the migrant community, which often views mental health difficulties as a sign of weakness and/or dangerousness and an indication that the individual will be permanently unable to make a positive contribution to society or lead a normative social life.

This often acts as a strong barrier to accessing mental health services and to compliance to treatment, with the unfortunate consequence that several cases of mental ill-health in the migrant community go unnoticed and untreated until the deterioration is severe and risk of harm to self is present.

The project will address the needs identified through the following measures:

→ Service provision

The provision of specialised professional services, such as social work support and one-to-one psychotherapy, to address the causes and consequences of individuals’ psychological difficulties.

→ Capacity-building

Increasing existing capacity to safeguard the psychological health of this population and to identify and support migrants and asylum seekers experiencing mental ill-health, through the provision of training and the development of resources to supplement and maximise the benefits of existing services.

→ Advocacy

Advocating for improved access to mainstream services, by increasing the capacity of mainstream services to respond to the needs of beneficiaries of protection and develop more coordinated services, through consultation meetings bringing together all stakeholders aimed at increasing awareness of the rights of beneficiaries of international protection and the obstacles they face when seeking to access them.


This project aims to supplement and strengthen the existing JRS service with a view to meeting a need for services and support which is largely unmet and providing services to a population that is hugely under-served – i.e. migrants and asylum seekers experiencing mental ill-health. It also aims to enhance existing capacity to provide services to this vulnerable population in the longer term, through the provision of supervision and support for trainee psychologists on placement with JRS.

Moreover, through the provision of training and awareness raising among the migrant communities in Malta it aims to empower and enable migrants to identify, refer and support members of their community who are experiencing psychological difficulties, thus enhancing their quality of life and combating the stigmatisation and exclusion that often accompanies a diagnosis of mental ill-health.

This project is part-financed by the MMDNA community support fund. For more information visit

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