“My name is nobody… if to survive you need to deny your identity, there cannot be mental health nor dignity…”
The Athena Network: psychological and psychosocial support for immigrants living in extreme situation.
The Athena Network is a social support network in the area of health, and specifically in mental health, for immigrants experiencing trauma related to the migratory process. There are increasing numbers of immigrants who experience migration-related trauma, and there is a deficit in social support for these individuals. The Athena Network is defined by 4 characteristics:
1. The Athena Network is a non-profit entity. The name Athena evokes the figure of the Greek goddess quo protected Ulysses in his long voyage, helping him overcome adversity and danger along the way. Athena is the goddess of knowledge and humanism, which are fundamental values of society. The Network is made up of a group of health and mental health professionals. We have made a personal commitment to the often difficult, and sometimes tragic fate of millions of immigrants in the 21st Century.
2. The Network is an initiative of various institutions with a long history of experience in the work of immigrant mental health, which include the Ulysses Syndrome Program of the University of Barcelona, the Health Initiative of the Americas of the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley and the Centre Minkowska linked to the University of Paris V. The Athena Network was launched at the World Psychiatry Association Conference, Migration, Mental Health and Multiculturalism in the 21st Century, in Barcelona, October 30th to November 1st, 2010.
3. The Network aims to serve as a space for exchange of information and experiences of programs, research and initiatives that aim to improve and protect the mental health of these individuals.
4. The Atenea Network seeks to provide psychological and psychosocial support to immigrants in the areas of health and mental health, taking in to account the extreme situations in which many immigrants find themselves.
The Network seeks to support interventions with those immigrants who experience situations of extreme trauma associated with the migration process. The migratory process is, for millions of people, a process that brings with it a level of stress that surpasses the capacity and processes of adaptation of individuals to deal with it. The Network specifically supports undocumented immigrants, who often find themselves in situations where their human rights are not recognized.
To gather professionals, academics & other experts from different fields who provide support to immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees and are committed to contribute to these persons’ general wellbeing in the host countries;
To raise awareness at all levels of society, for the rights of those who come from third countries to work for a better life, or in search for protection from war, persecution or extreme poverty, and consequently, promote their biopsychosocial wellbeing and integration;
To advocate for migrants friendly laws and policies, based on respect for the dignity of all human beings;
To work towards increasing the values of hospitality, solidarity, cultural richness, and wellbeing of migrants and refugees living in Western societies.
To work together towards building healthy relationships between people in the host societies and those who come; and thus, contributing to the creation of more compassionate societies;
Formal and informal sharing of knowledge, experience, research and reflection among professionals, academics and experts on the area of mental health and migration from psychosocial & communitarian perspectives;
Create an official web site and social networks to disseminate best-practices, research & reflection;
Publishing the International Journal of Migration and Mental Health: from a psychosocial and communitarian perspective;
Hold an annual congress that gathers professionals, academics, experts, and public interested in the topic.
I International Congress on Migration & Mental Health
31stof October 2010 - Barcelona
II International Congress on Migration & Mental Health
1st of July 2013 - Portugal
Immigrants and refugees in a situation of extreme vulnerability : mental health and psychological and psychosocial interventions
III International Congress on Migration & Mental Health
Thursday 18th of September 2014 - Madrid (Spain)
Migration in extreme conditions and mental health.
Satelite congress of the XVI World Congress of Psychiatry
For millions of persons, migrating is converting itself in a process with stress levels so intense that they overcome the adaptation capacity of human beings: migration journeys converted in authentic odysseys, insurmountable walls to overcome, families broken for years, structural social exclusion, helplessness and lack of rights, implacable persecution… All these penalties generate an unbearable psychological suffering in immigrants on which we cannot close the eyes as mental health professionals; at the same time, their request for help challenges our consciences as human beings.
We addressed all these issues in the Congress ‘Migrating in extreme conditions and Mental Health’, held in Madrid with the best experts in this theme as well as many entities having worked for years at psychological and psychosocial level with these populations. We debated and looked for solutions to this huge drama of the XXI century.
The Congress was organised during the XX anniversary of the University Institute for migrations study of the Comillas University and the XVI World Congress of the World Psychiatric Association.