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Research projects - Working Group Intercultural Migration and Care Research

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Current projects

Mental health among women sex workers: A cross-sectional survey (PsychSex)

The project is a cross-sectional study to assess the lifetime and annual prevalence of mental disorders in women working as sex workers. The aim of the project is to gather data on the mental health of those who take up this activity and the risks to mental health that result from this activity. In order to better reach the target group, a participatory approach is to be pursued. Due to the heterogeneity of the group, important factors with a possible influence on the prevalence of mental disorders must be taken into account in order to obtain meaningful data. The different living conditions and personal prerequisites (e.g. nationality/residence title, level of education), the working environment (e.g. street prostitution, brothel or escort service), the form of prostitution (e.g. procuring prostitution) and underlying motives (e.g. poverty versus additional income), biographical previous experiences (e.g. trauma-induced disorders) and duration of activity (e.g. age of entry into prostitution) must be taken into account.

Since male prostitutes presumably differ significantly from female prostitutes in the above-mentioned life circumstances and personal conditions and thus in factors influencing mental health, the planned study will be limited to female prostitutes.

In addition, to the scientific exploration of the data, this project can contribute to the socio-political discussion by developing recommendations for the further development of psychosocial care services and legally required counselling. Additionally, it can provide information on the risks of prostitution for the mental health of women, on factors that are particularly strongly associated with mental health, and on the associated need for regulation at the federal, state and local levels.

Lead of the project:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Prof. Dr. Dipl.-Psych. Wulf Rössler

Doctoral students:
M.Sc. Psych. Franziska Liedtke
M.A. Psych. Gizem Kaya

Scientific staff:
Dr. Lena Karoline Zerbe

Master student:
Anastasiia Lotysh

Dipl.-Psych. Anna Schreiber

Student assistant:

Suicidality during the COVID pandemic: Comparison of persons with a migration and refugee background with people with a native German cultural background (SuCOMi)

The SuCOMi project is investigating the potential impact of the Corona pandemic upon the mental health of different cultural and social groups, with a particular focus on suicidality (suicide attempts, suicidal behavior, and suicidal thoughts and ideation). To do this, we will conduct interviews with a wide range of people in German society, with a special emphasis on people with a migration or refugee background. Persons with Turkish and Russian migration backgrounds, persons with refugee backgrounds from Syria and Afghanistan as well as people with a German cultural background, will be included in the study.
Many factors contribute to the likelihood of suicide attempts, thoughts and actions, and ideation. These include stress from financial problems, job loss, social isolation, loneliness, and mental health issues. Vulnerable groups in Germany, such as persons with a migration and refugee background, may be exposed to further stresses, contributing to suicide-related vulnerability, such as discrimination and stigmatization. The current COVID-19 pandemic, could exacerbate these stresses, increasing the risk of suicidality. The interactions between these acute causes, triggered by lockdown measures and their consequences - such as quarantine, isolation, physical distancing, loneliness, and uncertainty regarding the future, may increase suicidality. In addition, worry about relatives in the country of origin can trigger or intensify depression and anxiety. When worry and anxiety are prolonged, they can increase the risk of serious mental disorders, including anxiety disorders, panic, stress, and trauma-induced disorders. All of these factors could escalate levels of suicidality, however we still lack adequate data on the various complex interactions of these different factors.  

Project staff:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Dr. James Kenneth Moran, M.Sc. (Psych.)

Doctoral candidates:
Soraya Julia Hintz
Shahram Anwarzay

Masters students:
Marie Mylord
Dr. Rascha Nasar

Student research assistants:
Gözde Özler
Nesrin Ocak


Participation through socio-cultural opening?
(Post-) Migrant Professionals and Patients in Institutional Change using Medicine and Nursing as Examples

funded by BMBF

The project "ToP" focuses on the change of institutional framework conditions in the health care system of our postmigrant society. Two integration-relevant levels of socio-cultural diversity are linked: on the one hand, the working conditions of (post-) migrant health personnel, on the other hand, the health care of (post-) migrant patients. The focus is on the question to what extent the experience background of a migration influences processes and structures in the institutions and to what extent an intercultural opening can promote the participation of (post) migrants. The case studies to be examined - four hospitals and four outpatient care services - differ in their process of intercultural opening (IKÖ). In two of the organisations, a culturally sensitive intervention is developed and carried out in a participatory process (so-called measures kit), which is accompanied by evaluation.

Project staff of the PUK of the Charité in the SHK:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Zohra Bromand

Cooperation partners:
Institut für Medizinischen Soziologie und Rehabilitationswissenschaft, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
Institut für Gesundheit & Soziales der FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management gGmbH, Essen

ToP Exposé

More to come ...

Completed Projects

MyHealth (European project)

Models to Engage Vulnerable Migrants & Refugees in their Health through Community Empowerment & Learning Alliance

Funded by the EU

Project staff:
Prof. Dr. M. Schouler-Ocak
Dr. James Kenneth Moran
Sinan Orhan (student assistant)

MyHealth-Flyer available as download

Download: Foreign language skills in Berlin's medical practices - Overcome language barriers!


Factors influencing response to antidepressants in patients with a Turkish migrant background

The study serves to investigate factors influencing the response to drugs for the treatment of depression in patients who themselves or whose parents have immigrated to Germany from Turkey. Psychosocial (e.g. family situation, past experiences, integration, etc.), clinical (e.g. severity of symptoms) and biological (e.g. genetic variants) factors influencing the course of depression are currently not fully understood, and especially for people with a migration background there is virtually no data available. Research into these influencing factors can contribute to a better understanding of the course of depressive illnesses and thus to a future improvement in the success of treatment.

Clinical Scientist Grant: Dr. Eva Janina Brandl

Project staff:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Eda Koca
Abit Kazcui
Deniz Gürbüz
Arda Cemal Aksoy


Israeli-German experience exchange on psychosocial emergency and early care for acutely traumatised persons

sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Health

in cooperation with ITC

Further cooperation partners:
Senate administration for health, care, and equality
German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Alexianer Institut für Psychotraumatologie
Psychiatric university clinic at St. Hedwig Hospital
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Project staff:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Dipl.-Soz. Wiss. Robert Teltzrow
Dipl.-Wirtschaftsjuristin (FH) Xandra Herrmann
Dipl.-Psych. Amanda Heredia Montesinos
Cand med. Sonja Radde


Interventions with suicidal behaviour of young adults with migration background: culture-related and gender-specific adaptations

Supported by the BMBF

The suicide attempts and suicides among young people with and without a migration background show a clear gender difference in terms of frequency as well as the underlying pattern of problems and psychological disorders. The aim of this joint project is to investigate the effectiveness of the use of psychosocial case managers in the aftercare of young adults in suicidal crises who remain outpatient after emergency medical and acute psychiatric care. For this purpose, a randomised controlled intervention study with a mixed-method design will be carried out, targeting Germans without a migration background and persons with a migration background from regions of the Middle East aged 18 to 29 years who come into contact with the medical emergency care system due to suicidal actions. Furthermore, on the basis of focus group discussions, guidelines for emergency care in and after suicidal crises will be developed for a culturally diverse group of patients.

Project management: Dr. Marion C. Aichberger

Project staff: Rahsan Yesil-Jürgens


The project "Psychosocial Resources and Needs of Refugee Girls at First-Admission Institutions in Germany" aims

  1. to survey and analyse the psychosocial resources and needs of refugee girls in 4 first-admission institutions in various German states,
  2. to develop microprojects and other psychosocial strengthening measures which are self-effective for refugee girls,
  3. to establish an active network of experts and experienced experts in the field of psychosocial stabilisation of refugee girls and to actively contribute to relevant topics and tried and tested approaches as well as to develop, publish and disseminate a toolbox for psychosocial stabilisation of refugee girls with practical suggestions and tips for these girls themselves, their relatives and employees and operators of accommodation.

Project staff:
Prof. Dr. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Zohra Bromand
Dr. Rascha Nassa
Marina Fischer
Bahrije Aygar
Dipl.-Wirtschaftsjuristin (FH) Xandra Herrmann
Nazli Ahu Amanet
Parisa Haghigi
Merle Hörig

Cooperation partner:
Save the Children Deutschland e. V.

Project staff:
Ramona Grützner
Lena Rother
Carolyn Krüger
Colette Kabeya Wa-Tshunza
Hatice Ayten
Stefanie Fried


Project staff WOHIN-Study (Homelessness among people with mental illnesses)

Dr. Stefanie Schreiter
Dr. Stefan Gutwinski

PhD students:
Sascha Heidrich
Jamie Eichmann
Anne Brückner
Ute Saathoff

Female Refugee Study

Project staff „Study on Female Refugees“
Project teams at the different sites

Psychiatrische Universitätsklinik der Charité im St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus,
Große Hamburger Straße 5-11, 10115 Berlin
Tel.: 030/2311 2108
Fax: 030/2311 2787

Project management
Prof Dr. med. Meryam Schouler-Ocak
Dr. Christine Kurmeyer

Scientific staff
Dipl.- Psych. Jenny Jesuthasan
Dr. Ingar Abels
Dr. Racha Nassar
Dr. Ekin Sönmez
PD Dr. Sabine Oertelt-Prigione
Dr. Joachim Bretz

Project staff
Rawan Massood
Zahra Sabet
Elham M.
Freweyni Habtemariam
Fatemeh Sabet
Azar Pajuhandeh
Lina Akope
Nahid Haghighi
Dipl.- Wirtschaftsjuristin (FH) Xandra Herrmann
Rana Alshika
Sarah Hamadeh
Simonetta Giuliano
Zara Witte
Khulud Sharif-Ali
Alham Quadri
Salo Tober-Lau
Pinkus Tober-Lau
R & L Webdesign

Abteilung Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie
Institut für Psychologie
J.W. Goethe-Universität
Varrentrappstr. 40-42
60486 Frankfurt am Main

Tel: 069/798-23842, -22848
Fax: 069/798-28110

Project management
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Stangier
Dr. Jana Gutermann

Scientific staff
Dr. Dorothea Isele
MSc. Psych. Schahryar Kananian
MSc. Psych. Annabelle Starck
Dipl.Psych. Assia Boukacem

Project staff
Hourvash Nadimi Farrokh
Hanieh Kharghanian
Layla Fandi
Morssal Dasthi
Yohana Arefaine
Suad Mahir
Manar Fandi
Stephanie Neutzner

Institut für Arbeits-, Sozial- und Umweltmedizin der
Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Tel: 06131/179213
Fax: 06131/179045

Project management
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Dipl.-Ing. Stephan Letzel
Dr. med. Renate Kimbel
Dipl.-Soz. Ulrike Zier

Project staff
Shila Ahmadi
Yara Al-Zamel
Rima Al-Sadeh
Teklemicael Fecadu
Basel Halabi
Fadumo Hassan
Amal Ahmedahir Mahdi
Kristina Maier
Jamila Niko
Samira Rasuli
Hannah Taubitz
Ukbamariam Tewelde
Helena Gretschmann

Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Klinikum Nürnberg Nord
Universitätsklinik der Paracelsus
Medizinische Privatuniversität
Tel: 0911/398-3964
Fax: 0911/398-3965

Project management
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Dr. med. G. Niklewski
Prof. Kneginja Richter

Scientific staff
Dipl. Psychologin Kateryna Shyshko
Lukas Peter

Institut für Allgemeinmedizin
Universitätsmedizin Rostock
Doberaner Straße 142
18057 Rostock
Tel: 0381/494-2484
Fax: 0381/494-2482
Universitätsmedizin Rostock:
Institut für Allgemeinmedizin:

Project management
Prof. Dr. med. Attila Altiner

Scientific staff
Dr. phil. Anja Wollny, M.Sc.
Antje Krüger, M.A.

Project staff
Safa Hmimda
Reem Alabdalah
Rawia Al-Obadi
Rueida Ali Qasem Ghalab
Maryam Fathollah Gol
Ahd Ali Ali Al-Dhab

Berlin alliance against depression

BMBF Project: Suicide Rates and Suicide Prevention among Turkish Women in Berlin (2008-2011)


  • Medienaufklärungscampagne "Beende Dein Schweigen, nicht Dein Leben" –"Hayatına değil, suskunluğuna son ver"
  • Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Zentrum für Psychosoziale Medizin, Institut und Poliklinik für Medizinische Psychologie
  • Berliner Krisendienst
  • Berliner Bündnis gegen Depression e. V.

Cooperation with:

Cooperation partners:

  • DGSP (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziale Psychiatrie)
  • Prof. Dr. Gromann, Hochschule Fulda, Department of Social Work
  • Prof. Dr. Ernst v. Kardorff (Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
  • Dr. Silvia Krumm, Ulm University
  • other universities
  • Kooperationsprojekt mit der Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe mit der Centralversicherung zur Versorgungsverbesserung von dort versicherten Menschen mit Depression und dem Deutschen Bündnis gegen Depression e. V.
  • World Psychiatric Association – Transcultural Psychiatry Section