Psychosocial Support to Unaccompanied Asylum-seeking and Separated Children (UASC) living in long-term facilities in Greece»


“Unaccompanied minor” is every refugee or migrant child under 18 years of age, who has been forced to flee from his or her country of origin as a result of war, persecution, violence, or disaster without being accompanied by a parent or adult relative responsible for his or her care. The government of the county that will host unaccompanied minors is responsible for their protection and security, whereas humanitarian and non-governmental organizations act in support and collaboration with national and local authorities.

Between January 2016 and September 2020, 32,365 unaccompanied minors, have been referred to the National Center of Social Solidarity (EKKA) in order to ensure living arrangement in Greece. Data available on September 30th, show 4,222 registered unaccompanied minors currently registered by EKKA, with the large majority being boys over 14 years of age. Approximately half of them reside in one of the 60 shelters or 47 apartments, while the remaining live in temporary accommodations or under undignified living conditions.

The national health and welfare system has been overstretched and unprepared to meet the complex mental health needs of these minors. In the absence of an operational plan for providing shelter and psychosocial care to these youngsters, national and international non governmental organizations, often employing field workers with limited or no prior experience, assume the responsibility to operate accommodation facilities and provide children with mental health support. The challenges that unaccompanied minors have encountered and continue to face in Greece (which is perceived as a “transition” country in their trajectory to northern Europe), are enormous with possible long-term developmental and mental health effects that have not been studied at a national level.


Research goals and objectives

The main goal of the present study, which adopts a mixed method design, is to provide an in depth exploration of the psychosocial services provided to unaccompanied minors who live in long-term facilities, specifically in Greek shelters and independent living apartments.

Research objectives are four:

  1. to map the existing psychosocial services for unaccompanied minors who live in long-term facilities
  1. to explore the perceptions that program planners, program coordinators, and field workers hold about the unaccompanied minors’ psychosocial needs, and compare them with the minors’ perceptions of their own needs and how these are being met
  1. to generate a model of factors and processes which facilitate or hinder service design, delivery, and evaluation of psychosocial support for unaccompanied minors
  1. to propose a set of guidelines for: (i) the development and implementation of psychosocial services for unaccompanied minors living in long-term facilities, (ii) the evaluation of these services, and (iii) the support of field workers by their organization.


The project outcomes will benefit directly more than 2,000 unaccompanied minors who live in long-term facilities, and indirectly many more children who have no access to a safe and stable accommodation. Of benefit it will also be for more than 1,000 field workers who provide different aspects of support, and to approximately 20 non governmental organizations who operate shelters for unaccompanied minors. Findings will also be of value to policy makers who will have access to guidelines for the development and implementation of policies that enhance the mental health of unaccompanied minors. Finally, field workers will benefit from the proposal of educational programs, tailored to their needs, so as to ensure appropriate support for the minors and the cultivation of resilience.

UASC-4-PSYCH is funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “First Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty members and Researchers and the procurement of high-cost research equipment grant” (Project Number: 16340).