Mental Health and Forced Migration

The WG Mental Health and Forced Migration aims to advance German-based research on the mental health of refugees through multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives. Studies show an increased risk for the development of mental disorders among refugees compared to populations without refugee experience. Risk factors for mental disorders include traumatic experiences, delayed asylum procedures, detention, and loss of culture and social support. The focus of research on the mental consequences of forced migration in Germany to date has been predominantly within the confines of individual disciplines, particularly clinical psychology and psychiatry. However, the dominant diagnoses here are too narrow for a comprehensive understanding of the impact of forced migration on mental health.

In the working group, we would like to incorporate broader concepts, such as those of psychological well-being, as well as cross-disciplinary aspects, such as social and cultural anthropological approaches to identity constructions of refugees in exile, into the development and design of innovative research ideas and projects. One goal of the working group is to focus not only on risks but also on resilience,  and to understand refugees as active agents in shaping and maintaining their well-being. We also hope to include more participatory research findings from both research ‘in the field’ and in exile in the development of intervention/prevention recommendations.

The Mental Health and Forced Migration Working Group aims to serve as a platform that can be used for discussions on current issues, planning of joint research projects/publications, and mutual constructive criticism of planned projects/publications.

The working group holds quarterly online meetings. If you are interested, please contact the coordinators via email.


Prof. Dr. Cordula von Denkowski

Dr. Babette Gekeler

Frauke Baller, M.Sc.