Mental Health Problems of Refugee Children: A Case Study of Transit Center Intervention in the Republic of Macedonia

Author: Gordana Stankovska
Institution: University of Tetova
Year of publication: 2019
Source: Show
Pages: 91-106
DOI Address:
PDF: kie/124/kie12406.pdf

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stress of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his/her community (World Health Organization, 2004). War and disasters have the greatest impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being. A considerable number of child refugees enter Europe to seek refuge from ongoing conflict and war in their home countries. Refugee children are at greater risk of psychological distress than non-refugee children and they may develop symptoms such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, physical problems or become aggressive. Trauma can impact the children’s physical well-being, cognitive development and psychological/emotional well-being and behavior. Therefore, these children are identified as having unique; however, urgent mental health needs requiring timely interventions. According to these findings, in this article the author is trying to explain the mental health problems and interventions among two refugee children (brother and sister) who stayed in the Transit Centre “Vinojug” in Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia, two years ago. They had significant psychological disturbances such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, because they lost their home and their father. They have been here only with their pregnant mother. At the beginning they needed individual psychiatric or psychological support, but later also group psycho-social support. Verbal, art and game-based interventions proved effective in reducing the PTSD symptoms and depression. After that, the children showed positive emotions such as gratitude, hope, happiness, and optimism. At the same time they started to attend the local school and the first words in Macedonian language were: “Hello, how are you?” They have already learned the Macedonian language and counted in Macedonian; they knew how to ask for water and learned the basic terms. Hence, when they left the Transit Center with their mother, they were very sad: “Here we have many new friends who help and love us”. Our study provides a strong evidence base regarding the use of verbal and clinical interventions for PTSD and emotional and behavioral difficulties, respectively. Also, the main goal of the psychological workshop is stimulation of the copy strategies, resilience and psychosocial development through structured playful activities such as voice, movement, painting, drawing, song, sound.


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