8 - EASO Mental health of applicants for international protection i n Europe
1. Introduction
The EASO Vulnerability Experts Network (VEN) identified mental health in asylum as a priority for 2020. VEN
members stated that first-line officers face challenges when wor king with applicants that present with
mental health concerns. Anecdotes of aggressive behaviour by applicants against themselves (self-harm),
towards other residents in reception centres and verbal aggression towards case officers during interviews
were shared during group sessions in last year’s VEN annual conference. Signs of depression, withdrawal and
anxiety in applicants were mentioned. These signs were exhibited particularly by those who have bee n in
Europe for months and even years without a decision, or those who have filed a subsequent application.
Concerns around the credibility of content shared during intervie w by these applicants were also seen as
challenging by some members of the network.
As a first step in responding to the VEN request, EASO develop ed a survey that included two separate
questionnaires9. The survey took into account the informal discuss ions during the last annual conference
and VEN meeting (29th of Oct 2019). One questionnaire focused on potential mental health concerns of
applicants in reception facilities and the related challenges for professionals. The second questionnaire
focused on challenges arising during the personal interview for professional and applicants alike.
The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding on:
the major mental health concerns applicants present and which are the ma in vulnerable groups
according to first-line officers in reception as well as case officers;
the way the work of first-line officers in reception and during the personal interv iew is affected by
mental health conditions of applicants;
the needs to be addressed by authorities and organisations worki ng in the context of asylum to ensure
professional, timely and continuous identification, respo nse to and prevention10 of mental health
concerns of applicants.
Up to now, EASO and its various networks have not yet worke d specifically on the topic of mental health of
applicants for international protection. As a first step, EASO is sharing this initial mapping report with the
networks (VEN, the EASO Network of Reception Authorities and Asylum Processes Network), all of which
participated in this survey as a base for follow-up and identification of additional areas fo r support.
9 See both questionnaires (reception and asylum interview) in full in Annex I.
10 As per Articles 21 and 22 RCD.

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