Médecins Sans Frontières sound alarm as migrants’ mental health problems get worse

Migrants and refugees in Greece are in a “state of emergency” with deteriorating mental health issues, according to a report by the aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who sent an open letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asking for his intervention.

According to the report, 110 patients in Lesvos have asked for help with such issues between the beginning of July and August 21 this year, up 50 pct compared to April-June 2017.

An average of six to seven people need urgent care for suicide attempts, self-injuries, psychotic episodes and other mental health emergencies every week.

A 30-year-old woman from Afghanistan in Lesvos confessed in July: “My daughter is five years old. She almost no longer speaks. And my husband cannot sleep. At nights I am awake and I am thinking about what will happen to us, what other options we had. Sometimes I tremble. Stress, fear, and sorrow.”

An MSF psychologist in Lesvos said last month: “We are doing everything we can to help those in need, but their psychological state is terrible. There are about 15 suicide attempts every month in Moria, it is an unbearable situation.”

Poor living conditions, neglect and violence are, according to the organisation, to a large extent responsible for the deteriorating mental health of residents at the centre.

In a survey carried out by MSF in collaboration with the Epicentre research centre based on a sample of 1,293 migrants and refugees across Greece in late 2016 and early 2017, it was found that almost half of respondents had been abused on their journey from Turkey and almost a quarter had been victims of violence after they arrived in Greece.