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A French organization works to address the psychological trauma of exile

The widespread, worldwide need for greater access to effective mental health support is gaining ever wider recognition.

But that need remains especially acute for people living in exile who have survived torture and political violence.

Founded in 1999, the Osiris Care Center in Marseilles specializes in providing free comprehensive trauma-informed mental health care to people who have experienced torture and political repression.

Those who worked with Osiris hail primarily from a dozen countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Kosovo, Nigeria, and Guinea—as well as, to a lesser extent, nearly two dozen others. Many patients are under 21 and most are under 40. Their backgrounds vary greatly, but many face similar problems in accessing the mental health care they need: a language barrier, an isolated and precarious existence since being displaced, a shortage of specialized care.

Using multidisciplinary teams including psychiatrists, clinical psychiatrists, social workers, translators and others, Osiris provided context-specific care to 173 people in the language of their choosing through more than 1,000 sessions in 2022. Osiris sees the effects of trauma as contagious, and offers therapeutic sessions for families and couples, in addition to individual appointments and four-person discussion groups. Patients are welcome regardless of their administrative status in France.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) recently provided support for Osiris, and the Foundation is focusing on mental health at its annual SNF Nostos event in Athens in June. Previous grants from SNF have supported mental health services for survivors of torture in Athens.