APH 2009, 67, 30-44:
Access to Mental Health for Asylum Seekers in the European Union. An Analysis of Disparities between Legal Rights and Reality
P. Bell, E. Zech
Keywords: asylum seeker, refugee, mental health, reception conditions
The article explores some of the issues surrounding access to mental health care for asylum seekers, using Belgium as a case in point. Asylum and immigration issues have become increasingly pressing in Europe, with member states seeking a common European Asylum System and establishing minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers. The EU measures have fallen short of providing and implementing clear guidelines. Significant discrepancies continue to exist between member states, notably policies on health care for refugees, and in particular mental healthcare. Access to mental health care is identified as crucial, yet for many the right to access is theoretical only, and in reality care is often inaccessible. Access should refer not only to the availability, but also the quality and efficacy of care. Refugees are a particularly vulnerable population, and access in the fullest sense of the term should be an essential element in the reception of asylum seekers.