AMERA International believes quality legal representation for refugees necessitates an understanding of mental health needs and their effects. Where relevant, it requires addressing the impact of mental health as part of legal representation and access to fair legal procedures. As part of its Therapeutic Legal Assistance Model, AMERA is working to strengthen the use of mental health assessments and reports in legal processes.

Training

AMERA International is partnering with St. Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) in the development of training curriculum and resources for legal advisors and mental health practitioners. These aim to strengthen the use of mental health assessments and reports to facilitate quality legal representation and fair refugee status determination and other legal processes for refugees with mental health needs.

Curriculum for mental health practitioners includes:

  • Medico-legal reports – background and wider use
  • Refugee status determination and durable solutions for refugees – trauma, mental health and their implications
  • Coordinating with legal representatives
  • Report templates
  • Assessments, tools, guidelines and references
  • Symptoms and diagnosis
  • Clinical implications and recommendations

Curriculum for legal representatives includes:

  • Medico-legal reports – background and wider use
  • Understanding trauma, identifying mental health needs, acknowledging implications
  • Instructing mental health practitioners
  • Guidelines, standards, best practices, and references for incorporating mental health needs and reports in legal representation

Resources

AMERA can support in the development of systems, tools and procedures to implement trauma and mental health informed legal practices. This can include:

  • Screening tools for legal advisors to identify clients with mental health needs
  • Referral procedures
  • Mental health report templates

We have a range of further information on the use of medico-legal reports in legal processes. See Rights in Exile’s:

Identifying mental health practitioners for reports

Not all legal representatives have access to or the resources for mental health services for timely assessments and the provision of quality mental health reports. There may also be times when specialised mental health practitioners are needed.

AMERA International is operating a bank of practitioners globally (psychologists, psychiatrists, and other specialists – such as those specialising in certain neurodevelopment disorders) who may be available upon request to provide low cost or free of charge assessment and report services. These services could be in person or provided remotely (online), depending on the circumstances.

Please contact us if:

  • You are a mental health professional and you would like to be added to our list of specialists
  • You are a legal aid practitioner and you would like support identifying a suitable provider to conduct an assessment and prepare a report.

Inquiries

If you are interested in any of our available services to strengthen the inclusion of mental health in legal processes, please contact info@amerainternational.org and sabine.larribeau@amerainternational.org.