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Cultural Mediator (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

Make the bridge between MSF and our beneficiaries with the aim to improve the quality of the services offered fostering the removal of linguistic and cultural barriers and improve the access to health care and different services.

Job Profile

  • Raise awareness and promote mental health services among beneficiaries using the available tools and information transmitted by the supervisor
  • Support the provision of quality services facilitating the communication between beneficiaries and staff (MSF and other) or volunteers by creating a trustful relationship with all counterparts.
  • Provides proactively orientation and information to our beneficiaries with regards to the use of the available health care system and the provision of services by other actors.
  • Provide health promotion messages on different topics according to the needs defined by the mental health supervisor.
  • Provide updated information about the general situation according to the needs defined by the project coordinator. Reflect together with the mental health supervisor and team of MH counsellors to adapt messages to make them culturally acceptable, avoiding misunderstandings.
  • Support and brief identified stakeholders in understanding specific aspects of the cultural background of the beneficiaries with whom you have cultural affiliations with the aim to improve the provision of qualitative services.
  • Exchange with other cultural mediators and all MSF staff in order to approach each beneficiary in the most appropriate way.
  • Share information on a daily basis with your supervisor about certain situations that have caught your attention during the day (stories about violence, ill treatment and particular problems).
  • Support translation of MSF internal/external documents into the required languages.


  • Assure the translation between the counsellor/MH supervisor and the client in his/her mother tongue making the words of the mental health professional understandable to the client and vice versa. The individual consultations or group sessions are driven by the counsellor/MH supervisor.
  • Ensure that the beneficiaries understand the mental health support offered by the mental health team using the most appropriate vocabulary in order to avoid stigma and facilitating positive coping mechanisms.
  • Perform in strict cooperation with the counsellor/MH supervisor, screening, psycho-education group sessions, group counselling as well as individual consultations for identified clients.
  • Share with the mental health team, before or after the consultations, important aspects of the cultural background of the beneficiaries to be considered in order to improve the quality of MSF services.
  • Apply proactively Psychological First Aid when encountering the beneficiaries in distress and refer to the counsellor/MH supervisor.
  • Promote awareness on different health topics using the tools that were developed.
  • Collect testimonies and carry out client survey, if requested by your supervisor.
  • If requested, accompany clients in case of referrals or in case of follow-up mental health care in order to facilitate the provision of services.
  • Collect and update information given and support the creation of Health promotion materials in collaboration with the mental health team.
  • Ensure confidentiality and medical/psychological secrecy.
  • Support the MH team with the Data Collection.
  • Participates in team meetings, trainings and supervision with MH team.
  • Participates in care for the caretaker’s sessions.
  • Collects feedback from the beneficiary on the implementation and quality of the activity.

Candidate profile

  • High school degree,  preferentially Bachelor in Social, Anthropological or Paramedical studies - An official translator qualification is desirable
  • 2 years working experience - Previous experience with MSF or other NGO is an asset
  • French and Dutch are essential as well as Arabic or Dari/Farsi
  • English 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,

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted