PALOMA Center of Expertise in Refugee Mental Health Work

The PALOMA Center of Expertise enhances the mental health of people with a refugee background who have moved to Finland.

The PALOMA Center of Expertise comprises of experts and organizations across Finland. The Center of Expertise consists of partners in both public health care sector and in NGOs, and it is coordinated by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

The experts and organizations of PALOMA Center of Expertise:

  • provide support, information, and training
  • provide knowledge based on research
  • do customer work and provide consultation for other experts
  • take part in developing services
  • do advocacy work.

The content of the work done by the experts and organizations depends on their own main tasks.

The tasks of PALOMA Center of Expertise.The tasks of the PALOMA Center of Expertise.

THL coordinates the PALOMA-networks, organizes national trainings and seminars, does research and marketing, and shares relevant information throughout Finland.

The PALOMA Center of Expertise works to develop different services in ways that improve refugees’ mental health and equal access for services. The most up-to-date information about the Center of Expertise can be found from our Finnish website.

PALOMA-osaamiskeskus (in Finnish)

The PALOMA Center of Expertise has been built and developed through three different projects, which all have been funded by Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund (AMIF). Currently, the Center of Expertise functions without a dedicated project funding.

Why is the PALOMA Center of Expertise needed?

Population research has indicated that people who have moved to Finland, and especially people with a refugee background, have more mental health challenges than the general population in Finland. The research has shown that people with a refugee background do not receive the support they need to improve their mental well-being, nor do they receive treatment for mental health issues. Too few of those who need support use services that are available. Unattended mental disorders cause humane suffering and complicate the integration process.
Mental health of migrants

PALOMA Center of Expertise is based on cooperation and research, and founded upon three different projects:

  1. The first PALOMA-project (2016-2018) recognized deficiencies, barriers, needs, and good practices in the work of refugee mental health in Finland. Based on these PALOMA handbook was written together with large group of experts.Building a national network to support the work of refugee mental health was one of the central recommendations in the handbook: PALOMA Center of Expertise was an answer to this need.
  2. PALOMA Center of Expertise was established during PALOMA2-project (2019-2021).
  3. PALOMA3-project (2022) further strengthened and expanded the PALOMA Center of Expertise.

Trainings and tools for professionals

The list below provides links to trainings and tools that are available in English:

PALOMA training

Free, web-based, and comprehensive training package, that gives basic information about encountering people with refugee background and fostering their wellbeing. The users of this training are for example educational institutions and students, professionals from distinct disciplines, voluntary workers and anyone interested in this theme. The training consists of 16 variously themed videos.
PALOMA training

Mental Health for Migration – video series for refugees

This site features videos on mental health and well-being for refugees. The videos help one to learn how to take good care of themselves and theirhealth in their new home country. The videos contain information from a professional as well as the experiences from people who have moved to Finland.
Mental Health for Migration

Online course on anti-racism for professionals

Online course on anti-racism for professionals – knowledge, expertise, and emotion offers a comprehensive high-quality information package for work against racism. The themes of the course are focused on racism and its various forms in the Finnish society. The goal is to reduce ethnic discrimination and structural racism by providing professionals and students with information on anti-racist work.
Online course on anti-racism for professionals

PALOMA Research Network

PALOMA Center of Expertise maintains and manages a nationwide PALOMA Research Network. Read more and join through the website.
PALOMA Research Network

Contact information

Johanna Mäki-Opas            
Project Manager, PALOMA Center of Expertise
Tel. +358 29 524 7948
Email: johanna.maki-opas(at)


Research relating to the mental health of people from refugee background:

Castaneda AE et al. (2020) Migrants Are Underrepresented in Mental Health and Rehabilitation Services — Survey and Register-Based Findings of Russian, Somali, and Kurdish Origin Adults in Finland. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 6223.

Garoff F. (2022) Mental health of forced migrants in the Nordic countries. University of Helsinki. Helda.

Garoff F, et al. (2021) Mental Health and Traumatization of Newly Arrived Asylum Seeker Adults in Finland: A Population-Based Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, 7160.

Garoff F et al. (2021) Iranian and Iraqi torture survivors in Finland and Sweden: findings from two population-based studies. European Journal of Public Health, 31 (3), 439-499.

Kieseppä V. (2022) Mental health service use among immigrants living in Finland. University of Helsinki. Helda.  

Kieseppä V et al. (2020) Immigrants’ mental health service use compared to that of native Finns : a register study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 55(4):487-496

Markkula N et al. (2017) Incidence and prevalence of mental disorders among immigrants and native Finns: a register-based study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol, 52(12):1523-1540.