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World Refugee Day

 June 20, 2023

What is World Refugee Day?

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.

Why is World Refugee Day Important?

World Refugee Day shines a light on refugees' rights, needs and dreams, helping to mobilize political will and resources so refugees can survive and thrive. While it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day, international days like World Refugee Day help to focus global attention on the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution. Many activities held on World Refugee Day create opportunities to support refugees.

Refugee Mental Health 

According to a 2017 College of Psychiatrists of Ireland Position Paper,  refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have been identified as suffering up to ten times the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to the indigenous population. For many refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, the term post-traumatic stress disorder is not appropriate. This is because the process of migration into an alien and frequently hostile culture can mean that the trauma is still ongoing. It has not yet reached the “post” stage.

Resource  for Young People living in Direct Provision

Mind Yourself is a project led by the Irish Refugee Council aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of young people seeking protection and living in Direct Provision in Ireland.

Part of the project involved publishing a wellbeing resource for young people in the international protection process. This comic contains stories that capture the lives and experiences of young people seeking protection in Ireland and has everyday suggestions for improving mental health and wellbeing.

A copy of the comic is available here. An audio summary is available here

The project aims to:  

  • Raise awareness of mental health and well-being among young people seeking asylum 

  • Create youth-friendly resources aimed at improving and maintaining your mental health while living in Direct Provision 

  • Share these resources with young people living in Direct Provision through outreach and workshops 

To find out more about the Mind Yourself project, contact The Irish Refugee Council.


Tight Spaces’ – An Educational Resource on Direct Provision Written by Young People to Bring Attention to the Experience of Direct Provision.

‘Tight Spaces’ gives insight into the treacherous journeys of these resilient young people in search of safety and their experiences in Ireland’s international protection system. It aims to raise awareness of Ireland’s Direct Provision system and intends to bridge the gap in knowledge for young people in Ireland on this topic. It has been created for use in schools and youth groups. It encourages readers to connect with the topic of Direct Provision, explore it critically, and work towards taking action to build solidarity and create change. The resource states: 

“They (young people) spoke about how a person may often need to embark on a dangerous and harrowing journey to reach a safe place. This journey may involve a multitude of ‘Tight Spaces’ - packing belongings into a bag, a boat, lorry, sleeping bags.”

“Then when a person arrives into Direct Provision they may, unfortunately, find themselves within a tight space of cramped living conditions,” adding, “Due to the injustices embedded within this system, ‘Tight Spaces’ also represents the mental anguish that may be experienced, feelings of an individual’s world being shrunk, horizons being reduced, a lack of freedom and agency, and restricted opportunities.”The resource highlights the challenges of Ireland’s Direct Provision system through the eyes of young people, including crowding, which takes away their privacy and sense of safety, lack of culturally appropriate food, inability to meet basic needs from the inadequate state welfare payments, limited access to education and employment opportunities as well as social isolation in instances where centres are situated in remote areas.

Download your copy of Tight Spaces here

Guidelines for mental health services and staff on working with people from ethnic minority communities.

It is broadly acknowledged that in Ireland, services are designed and developed in a way that reflects the majority culture. There are a number of barriers for individuals from ethnic minority groups in accessing mental health services in Ireland, resulting in inequalities of access and outcome. It is important to note that ethnic minority community groups are not homogenous; the barriers for these diverse communities may be very different from one group to the next and from individual to individual. 

These guidelines are intended to be instructive to mental health services at a strategic level and to provide practical advice to mental health professionals in their work. In addition to the references throughout the recommendations, useful references are provided at the end of each section for further reading.  Download a copy here

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