Improving mental health services for refugees in Finland

Contact details 

Submitted by: Katri-Leena Mustonen, Project coordinator

Email: [email protected]


PALOMA: paloma-project-improving-mental-health-services-for-refugees

PALOMA2: programmes/national-support-system-for-refugee-mental-health-work-and-the-knowhow- dissemination-paloma2-

Finish Institute for health and welfare:

Introduction to the project 




PALOMA: January 2016 – December 2018

PALOMA2: February 2019- June 2021

The PALOMA work continues in the Centre of Expertise in Refugees’ Mental Health Work.


Three migrant population health studies (carried out in Finland) have shown there is an ethnic gap in mental health. To tackle this wellbeing cap in the population, the PALOMA project was launched. The aim of the project was to create the model for refugees’ mental health work in Finland (including the PALOMA handbook and PALOMA-training).

The PALOMA handbook offers an extensive information package about refugees’ resource and risk factors relevant to mental health. It gives guidelines and detailed recommendations for decision makers, management, and professionals in different sectors for the prevention, recognition and treatment of mental health problems among refugees and asylum seekers in Finland. It gives recommendations and tools not only for the social and health care sectors but also for example, to education, early childhood education, and third sector. The PALOMA- training is a free, web-based, and comprehensive training package which gives basic information to work with people of refugee background, and to foster both the patients’ and the professionals’ own wellbeing. The main goal of the following project PALOMA2, is to establish the Centre of Expertise in Refugees’ Mental Health Work and to disseminate the knowhow gathered. These centres are established in all five of Finland’s university hospitals.

Project aims

  • General involvement of professionals in the fields of mental health and integration.
  • Having competent workers to provide more effective services.
  • Promoting refugee mental health to enhance self-reliance.

Resources used

Both of the projects are funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).


  • PALOMA was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Kuopio University Hospital, the Finnish Association for Mental Health, Helsinki University Hospital (Department of Psychiatry), City of Hämeenlinna.

In addition, the project involved collaboration with Tampere University Hospital, Turku University Hospital, Oulu University Hospital, Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Tampere, the Centre for Torture Survivors in Finland, the Moniheli Network of Multicultural Associations, and the University of Tampere.

  • PALOMA2 is implemented in cooperation with all of the five university hospitals (TYKS, HUCH, KUH, TAYS, OYS) and Mieli Mental Health Finland.
  • Both of the projects are funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

How challenges were overcome

During the PALOMA project, the need for national coordination and more intense integration of PALOMA recommendations in health services was noticed.

The PALOMA2 project disseminates the knowhow gathered in the previous project and establishes the permanent Centre of Expertise in Refugees’ Mental Health Work nationally, to diminish lack of coordination and to promote refugees’ mental health comprehensively.

Results of the Good Practice 

  • Competent workers are able to provide more effective services and foster their own wellbeing.
  • National coordination and the Centre of Expertise will support professionals in their work with refugees and enhance the equal provision of services, ultimately narrowing the wellbeing gap within the population.
  • The Centre will support the development of the services so that they better support the mental health of refugees and other foreign-born people.