Gender-Sensitive Peer Counselling Groups in Times of Conflict Reflections on a Self-Help Support Group in Berlin


  • Jinan Abi Jumaa Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Andreas Heinz Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany



refugees, mental health, public health, peer support, self-help interventions, culture accessibility, self-management, stepped care collaborative model


The arrival of stark number of forcibly displaced refugees in Germany since 2015 has led
to increased challenges in the mental health care system. The system was overburdened, and
therefore innovative approaches to health care for refugees were necessary in order to gain
knowledge about their expansion and admission to regular care. To increase knowledge of refugees
regarding mental health services and to provide practical support, a manual for peer-to-peer
counseling was developed at Charité University Medical Center Berlin and refugees were trained as
peer counsellors. This paper aims to give an overview of previous peer support interventions
published in literature and to also point out to the preliminary results from the intervention
conducted at the Charité. Good practices and recommendations for peer interventions are provided.
Qualitative interviews were conducted with the group participants, and results show that peer groups
helped refugees in sharing experiences, in giving ideas for possible solutions, in building
social/friendship networks, and in providing a safe place for discussions. The results of our study
suggest that integrating gender-sensitive peer support approaches in the mental health services for
refugees may benefit the public health by reducing both need and demand for these services.


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How to Cite

Jumaa, J. A., & Heinz, A. (2020). Gender-Sensitive Peer Counselling Groups in Times of Conflict Reflections on a Self-Help Support Group in Berlin. Proceedings of the International Conference on Future of Women, 3(1), 12–24.