Thu 16 Jan 2020, 6.30–8pm
Cass Research Seminars:
Refugees' + Mental Health


Room GSG-15
The Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design
London E1 7TP

Image credit: Nicola Barbuto

Image credit: Nicola Barbuto

A collaboration between: Sandra Denicke-Polcher - Deputy Head of Architecture, The Cass and Dr. Corinna Haenschel - Director of Centre for Psychological Well-Being and Neuroscience, City University as well as Dr. Domenico Giacco - Associate Clinical Professor, University of Warwick, Warwick Medical School.

Crossing Cultures is the project title for a research initiative that brings together architecture students from Studio 3 and Unit 6 with students from other universities to work together with locals and asylum seekers in the hilltop village Belmonte Calabro, Italy. Supported by the local not-for-profit organisation Le Seppie since 2016, trust has grown between the participants and started to rebuild the local community in an area of shrinking towns and economic stagnation. Beside design outputs developed during the academic year and small physical structures made during onsite workshops, very little evidence exists about the benefits for the different participating groups, changes in social identity, and sense of community. This summer, a multi-disciplinary collaboration between Architecture, Social & Community Psychiatry, and Wellbeing & Mental Health at The Cass, Queen Mary and City University conducted a qualitative research study interviewing with the participants. The first outcomes of this study evidence a sense of belonging, created through shared emotional connections during the workshop.

Manar Qamarieh is writing an MA thesis about about the access of refugees to mental health services in UK, exploring the barriers to access. She will discuss her project, some challenges she faced, and how she tried to mitigate these challenges. The main lesson learned was the importance of empowering the community through having more psychosocial support activities. The ICRC programme started in North Lebanon in 2017. The focus was to decrease stigma on mental health within both Syrian and Lebanese communities. The symptoms identified through psychotherapy sessions were mostly related to anxiety and depression. Some of the encountered challenges were related to using assessment tools, involving men and the Lebanese community, in addition to patients’ long waiting list. Despite doubts and some feelings of losing hope, Manar learned a lot about resilience and that  mental health services and interventions could save lives.


About Cass Research Seminars

Cass Research Seminars are a series of public conversations which enable researchers to test and present their ideas in conversation with peers and a broader audience. The sessions seek cross-fertilisation of ideas and provoke discussion. Typically, they consist of two to three presentations of 15 minutes each followed by chaired discussion.

We had a productive year in 2017/18. Presenters found that the session deepened their work and added unexpected avenues to their thinking. All are welcome at Cass Research Seminars, both from inside and outside The Cass. For more information email and follow us on Twitter for the latest information @CassResearch

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