According to a report released by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), “Research reveals consistent accounts of severe mental health conditions.”
Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-harm “among people of all ages and backgrounds” have emerged as byproducts of the hopelessness and despair after years of confinement and detention on Greece's Aegean islands, Lesbos, Samos and Chios. One in three have contemplated suicide. One in five reported have actually attempted to take their lives. As many as three out of four have experienced symptoms such as sleeping disorders, depression and anxiety. Over the year there has been a rise in the proportion of people disclosing psychotic symptoms, from one in seven to one in four. Disclosures of self-harm have increased by 66%.
Psychologists concluded that the situation in the camps had worsened considerably since fires broke out in Lesbos displacing 13,000 refugees.
The mental health toll had been aggravated by lockdown measures that had kept men, women and children confined to facilities. The restrictions were stricter for refugees and migrants than those applied elsewhere in Greece, IRC support teams found a marked deterioration in the mental wellbeing of people in the camps since lockdowns were enforced.
Describing conditions in the camps as dangerous and inhumane, the IRC said residents were still denied access to sufficient water, sanitation, shelter and vital services such as healthcare, education and legal assistance to process asylum claims.
Kiki Michailidou, the psychologist in charge of the IRC’s psychosocial support programmes on Lesbos, pointed out, “After the fires we saw what could happen. There were transfers to the mainland and children were relocated to other parts of Europe. That’s proof that where there’s political will and coordinated action, the lives of people in these camps can be transformed.”