Currently we are witnessing approximately 25.4 million refugees around the world. More than half of this group is under the age of 18. Minor refugees constitute a high risk group with regard to mental disorders. However, there is a gap between prevalence rates of mental health problems and their use of healthcare services. Refugee minors seem to experience barriers in accessing mental healthcare systems such as language difficulties, lack of knowledge about the system or fear of stigmatization.
To reduce barriers and to implement a culture sensitive Basic-Life-Skills-Group (BLS) Training targeting topics such as emotion regulation, stress reduction, sleep problems was developed to address the psychological needs of refugee minors. The current exploratory study examined the outcomes and the effectiveness of this BLS-Group Training.
BLS-Groups consist of six weekly group meetings. The training was completed by 21 refugee minors at a German outpatient clinic. Data were collected before and after the intervention. A 6-month follow-up is scheduled. Participants completed the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and participated in semi-structured interviews to provide information about their stress experiences and coping strategies.
All participants appear to be satisfied with the training and gain a more realistic impression of psychotherapeutic work. Compliance for further treatment increased. Greatest improvements following the intervention were seen in acquirements of new resources and increased experiences of self-efficacy through extended scoops of action. Sleep appeared to be the most important topic. No significant pre-post differences for the SDQ scales could be established.
Low-threshold offers of mental healthcare including culture sensitive diagnostic and treatment are highly relevant for refugee minors. Further, group therapies enable a faster supply and are more cost-effective as not all refugee minors need additional individual therapy. Therefore, further studies are necessary to assess the efficacy of BLS-Group trainings.