Mental health overlooked

Photo courtesy of Statista | Greece has been overwhelmed by the number of refugees arriving on its islands. Many refugee camps that are being filled do not have the proper resources to appropriately assist those who have come to them in need.

A number of serious issues have arisen at a refugee camp in Greece due to the rapidly increasing number of people fleeing from danger in their home countries. So far this year, more than 3,500 people have arrived in Moria, a refugee camp located on the Greek island of Lesbos. There are currently only two medical clinics providing aid in the area, one which is Doctors Without Borders.

According to a study done by psychologists from Doctors Without Borders, 80 percent of refugees on the island are dealing with severe mental health issues and two-thirds of the mental health patients are victims of abuse. Of the women who underwent a gynecological consultation, 50 percent are victims of sexual abuse.

“As someone who has worked with people suffering from mental health issues, I find it incredibly disheartening to hear what is happening in Lesbos right now,” senior political science major Paula van der Sluys said. “Mental health issues run a risk of becoming permanent or more long-lasting the longer they go untreated. I hope that the Greek government can figure out what is going on before the conditions become even worse.”

The longer refugees remain on the island without proper care, the more their mental health deteriorates. Much of the lack of care is because of the dramatic increase in the number of refugees coming to the island. In April, 230 people arrived to the camp, while 530 arrived in May and 785 in June.

According to the report, there are 100 people on the waiting list to receive mental health services.

However, with the lack of resources, many refugees with serious illnesses are going untreated.

“After three days, the authorities registered us without a medical screening,” an unnamed 48- year-old refugee said about the conditions at Moria. “They didn’t even ask us if we needed to see a doctor or not. We have people with serious medical issues in our family. I have rheumatism and cardiovascular problems, and my sons have psychiatric issues. They take tranquilizers, and I take medicine too – we have finished our medicines.”

By: Sofia Estrada ~Guest Writer~