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Looking at the mental health of migrants, a child migrant looks at the camera.
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Educating student health professionals about migrant and refugee mental health

Tools provide a valuable insight from the perspective of refugee and migrant communities

by George Wigmore (Senior Communications Officer)

A visiting academic at City University London has produced free educational resources to help undergraduate health students understand the mental health challenges associated with refugee and migration communities.

Designed by Professor Eimear Muir-Cochrane and colleagues with help from refugees and migrants in Australia, the tools provide a valuable insight from the perspective of refugee and migrant communities, which is particular relevant in many societies today given the massive migration of peoples seeking safety and security.

Discussing the project and the resources at a seminar at City, Professor Muir-Cochrane - who is Chair of Nursing (Mental Health) at Flinders University, Australia and a visiting Professor in the Centre for Mental Health Research in the School of Health Science - spoke about how the aim of the free resources is to tell authentic stories which will help students will better understand the negative impacts stereotyping and stigma have on people with mental health issues.

Taking the form of videos, each has different learning outcomes for different areas and analysis found that it resulted in an increase in cultural competence from the materials. The full title of the project is 'Reshaping curricula: integrating culturally diverse/mental health online content to prepare work ready health professionals'.

To develop the tools, Professor Muir-Cochrane and colleagues collaborated with the Migrant Resource Centre in Australia and carried out focused interviews with ten volunteers in the aim that they could understand and identify the psychology, social and environmental challenges for refugees and migrants.

As a result, the learning materials integrate culturally diverse online content to prepare work-ready health professionals, as increasing around the world people in health services are coming into contact with many more migrants and refugees due to the biggest migrant wave since second world war.

Speaking about the research Professor Muir-Cochrane, said:

“Using an constructivist pedagogy we developed free educational online resources for undergraduate health students to be able to access to gain both self-awareness in emotional resilience, mental health and wellbeing as well as from the perspective of refugee and migrant communities in Australia.

“The materials demonstrate how teaching materials can be co-designed with people from migrant and refugee backgrounds and the challenges such work involves. The importance of cultural communication skills for health professionals is emphasised as well as their responsibility to provide support for migrant and refugees in maintaining good mental health.”

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