Creating Brave Spaces in Higher Education: A Short Interprofessional Education Exchange to Support Refugees’ Psychosocial Needs

Eirini Adamopoulou, Sarah Scheer, Margarita Mondaca


Potential traumatic experiences, prior, during and after migration, are the most common risk factors consistently associated with higher rates of mental disorders among refugees. The complex nature of refugee social and health challenges requires a holistic and comprehensive approach to achieve health equity. That is why, interprofessional education and collaboration among health and psychosocial care professionals is becoming increasingly crucial to build strong foundations for socially relevant work for refugees. Academic institutions can provide learning activities to advance students’ interprofessional knowledge and competences before they enter the workforce. This study explored higher education students’ experiences and reflections on a short-term interprofessional exchange that aimed to promote mental health and psychosocial support for refugees. Participants were higher education students from Germany, Greece, Sweden, and Spain representing the fields of psychology, occupational therapy, social work, pedagogy, medicine, and nursing. A qualitative study compromising two focus groups carried out at the end and 18 months after the interprofessional exchanges. Thematic analysis resulted in four themes: a) from curiosity to responsible action, b) my cultural humility journey, c) companion stories, and d) brave spaces and a sense of hope. Interprofessional collaboration emerged as a key strategy in protecting human rights and providing equal opportunities in psychosocial support of refugees. Findings highlight the value of short-term interprofessional exchanges for preparing higher education students in health and social care to move and be responsive in intercultural societies and contexts.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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