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Counselor (m/f) – Mental Health for Asylum Seekers - Belgium


MSF is planning a pilot project in Belgium targeting asylum seekers and newly arrived refugees (men, women and children) living in accommodation facilities or individual housing. The project aims to decrease morbidity and severity of mental health for the asylum seekers in Belgium with the specific objective to: Mobilize civil society and publicly demonstrate the need for mental health services for asylum seekers by piloting and documenting the efficacy of mental health and primary health services in a defined target population.

MSF plans to implement a Model of Care for mental health activities. The aim is to show that by intervening at an early stage, with not only specialized mental health staff, the mental health for asylum seekers and refugees can improve and reduce the burden of the primary and secondary health care. The project activities will be built on tree pillars: mental health activities – connection and networking with civil society – advocacy. The mental health activities will mainly consist of screening for mental health problems, and offering low threshold activities such as Psychological First Aid (PFA), Psychoeducation, Health Promotion, Group interventions and Individual counseling sessions (e.g. mental health assessment interview before referral). People who are in need of more specialized care will be referred to specialized care. Training and capacity building (e.g. on screening for mental health problems/detection and cultural briefing) will be given to staff at asylum centers, health care staff, schools and volunteers as part of the Model of Care. Care for staff and caretakers will be set up to prevent burnout due to emotional stress.

With a target population of 1000 people for the pilot project, MSF plans to have fixed and mobile teams to cover needs in collective and individual housing. The team composition will consists of Counsellors and Cultural Mediators with support from the Mental Health Manager. The Volunteer Focal Point will connect and network with volunteers from the civil society. The volunteers play an important part in organizing social activities/informing about psychosocial support for the individual and/or the family, in order to avoid worsening of people’s symptoms and stress.

Main purpose of the position

Perform screening, counselling and/or psycho-education sessions for clients, following different medical and mental health MSF protocols and procedures, in order to improve their psychosocial functioning.

Job Profile

  • Identify the psychosocial, socio-economic and administrative needs for patients
  • In order to alleviate the psychosocial difficulties:
    • Inform about and actively promote the availability of counselling and group services
    • Conduct screening for mental health problems
    • Conduct individual/group counseling, psycho educational sessions,  for clients and their families
  • Monitor activities
  • Apply Psychological First Aid (PFA) whenever needed 
  • Present clients cases to  mental health supervisor for further assistance in order to propose the best support available /or refer
  • Participate in the creation of any material needed for counseling, psycho-education and training activities
  • Support the CM in the creation of any material needed for health information and cultural briefing
  • Keep files and statistics of daily activities and participate in team meetings to share experiences and discuss special cases with other counselors and cultural mediators, preserving confidentiality
  • Inform MH supervisor of any problem of any kind arising during the day-to-day activities.
  • Take active part in trainings, supervisions/intervisions, psycho-education and support the mental health supervisor and field coordinator when necessary in doing sensitization for MSF staff or external partners/actors about mental health /psychosocial issues.
  • Discuss clinical case difficulties and problems with mental health supervisor

Candidate profile

  • Bachelor in social work, psychiatric nursing, psychology or other social/paramedical sciences
  • 2 years working experience - Experience in working with migrants is desirable
  • Experience in training and working with groups is desirable
  • Dutch and French are essential
  • English, Arabic, Dari/Farsi and Other languages spoken by migrants are desirable
  • Autonomous, proactive, flexible
  • Good transversal competencies such as cultural awareness, networking and building relationships
  • Good personal skill in working in team


  • 12 months contract - full-time – based in Belgium
  • Hospital Insurance (DKV) – Pension Plan – 100% reimbursement for public transport costs
  • Starting date : mid of January 2017

Interested candidates should send a cover letter (in French or Dutch or English) and curriculum vitae by e-mail to Ghiath Nasra, with “counselor” in the subject

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted