Understanding K-par-Cas-2: A Tool for Migrants' Reintegration and Mental Health
In 2021, the "K-par-Cas-2" toolkit was developed as a collaborative effort between The Ink Link, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and with financial support from the European Union. This toolkit is designed to promote the mental health and psychosocial well-being of migrants. It builds upon the initial version created in 2018 by psychologist Olivier Coldefy and illustrator Laure Garancher, co-founder of The Ink Link.
The Functionality of K-par-Cas 2
K-par-Cas 2 is a versatile toolkit that enables dialogue and self-representation through sets of cards featuring objects, landscapes, people, emotions, and skills. This toolkit provides individuals with a unique means to express themselves, allowing them to share information about their identity and life experiences, emotions, and skills. It empowers them to engage in conversations while being sensitive to their own boundaries and potentially distressing memories.
Components of K-Par-Cas-2
The "K-par-Cas-2" toolkit consists of several kits and supplementary materials, each serving a specific purpose:
Kit 1 : " My Story "
This kit allows migrants to share their personal backgrounds and histories in a safe and non-intrusive environment. It helps facilitators gather essential information about the migrants' life experiences.
Kit 2 : "My Migration Journey"
This kit delves into the details of the migrants' migration experiences, encouraging them to organize their thoughts and identify significant moments during their journey.
Kit 3 : "Taking Care of Oneself"
Kit 3 is focused on mental health and includes two components:
Kit 3A : Flip book "Take Care of Yourself"
This resource explains mental health and why migrants may be more susceptible to psychosocial distress. Furthermore, it provides valuable information on coping strategies to navigate such distress.
Kit 3B : Card Game "My Emotions"
This card game helps migrants express their emotions and identify signs of psychosocial distress.
Kit 4 : "My Resources"
This kit aids migrants in assessing their skills, resources, and aspirations for a positive future, laying the foundation for reintegration planning.
IOM provides training for K-par-Cas 2 toolkit to migrant returnees. Photo: IOM 2023
Tailored usage based on facilitator's expertise
The toolkit provides flexibility for facilitators with varying levels of expertise in mental health and psychosocial support. It offers different rules for "beginner," "intermediate," and "expert" facilitators, ensuring that the tools can be effectively utilized by a wide range of professionals.
Beginner Level: Designed for facilitators with no formal mental health training and limited experience in providing psychosocial support to migrants.
Intermediate Level : Tailored for facilitators who have received initial training focused on developing psychosocial skills.
Expert Level : Reserved for facilitators with professional mental health training and extensive experience in psychosocial support
Photo de groupe lors de la formation des formateurs à Dakar en janvier 2023. Photo : OIM 2023
Training of Trainers
Recognizing the importance of proper training, a "training of trainers" workshop took place in Dakar in January 2023, with the involvement of Olivier Coldefy and Laure Garancher, the originators of the K-par-Cas project. This workshop aimed to equip professionals with the skills to use K-par-Cas 2 effectively. Subsequently, this training program was replicated in six countries, including Nigeria with the support of IOM’s Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships to Achieve Sustainable Solutions initiative (COMPASS).
With limited access to the toolkit in Niger, the facilitators demonstrated their resourcefulness by downloading and printing materials, and even making use of recycled resources. Manon Dos Santos, one of the facilitators of the training, emphasized the significance of this initiative, stating, "This activity empowers field workers to master and employ the 'K-par-Cas 2' toolkit effectively, ultimately promoting the mental health and psychosocial well-being of migrants in transit or returning home."
K-par-Cas 2 is a valuable tool for aiding returning migrants, but its impact relies on well-trained facilitators who can make a significant difference in migrants' lives, as demonstrated by the "training of trainers" workshop in Dakar, promoting mental health and psychosocial well-being.
K-par-Cas 2: A Groundbreaking Toolkit for Migrant Mental Health Support
Returning migrants often encounter substantial challenges in reintegrating into their home countries, stemming the complexities of unsuccessful migration attempts and exposure to traumatic experiences. Enter K-par-Cas 2, a groundbreaking tool designed to provide essential Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) for returning migrants. Developed as an innovative card game, this tool offers individuals a safe space to open up about their migration experiences without the need for intrusive questions or judgment.
A Vision Takes Shape
The story of K-par-Cas 2 begins in 2018 when Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recognized the need for tools to facilitate the integration and care of migrants. Olivier Coldefy, a seasoned psychologist, conceived the idea of utilizing the principle of projective testing. The concept was simple but profound: using images to encourage migrants to share their stories. This initiative aimed to demonstrate genuine interest in their history, journey, and culture.
Olivier collaborated with Laure Garancher, an illustrator and co-founder of The Ink Link, an association dedicated to using art for humanitarian and social causes. Together, they began crafting a collection of cards featuring landscapes, silhouettes, and objects, each designed to serve as a catalyst for meaningful conversations.
From Vision to Reality
The toolkit underwent rigorous testing, with the team visiting migrant centers in France to conduct their initial sessions. Participants were asked to identify missing elements in the cards, fostering a participatory approach. As the project progressed, more members of The Ink Link joined the team, conducting tests under diverse conditions. Funding from the Fondation de France made the production of the first version, K-par-Cas, possible.
In 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recognized the potential of the project and sought to expand its reach. Gaia Quaranta, an IOM Regional MHPSS Officer at the time (now remembered fondly), spearheaded the effort, emphasizing the importance of field testing and collecting migrant stories to celebrate individual journeys. The development of K-par-Cas-2 was made possible with the financial support of the European Union (EU) under the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.
K-par-Cas 2 : A Portable, Versatile Tool
The objective of K-par-Cas 2 is clear: promote mental health and psychosocial well-being among returning migrants’ adults, teenagers, and children. This aligns perfectly with IOM's integrated approach to reintegration.
One of the standout features of K-par-Cas 2 kits is their adaptability. These kits cater to various facilitators and participants, accommodating different comfort levels, competencies, and needs. From providing a general overview of oneself to delving into potentially distressing memories, the toolkit respects the unique emotional journeys of each individual.
As Maty, Ismaila, and Fatou have discovered, K-par-Cas 2 is not just a game. “It’s exciting,” Maty expressed, “because it lets us talk and tell our story through the cards.” Through heartfelt conversations and storytelling, they found emotional support, and a renewed sense of belonging.
In a world where migration can be challenging and isolating, K-par-Cas 2 offers a path toward healing and reintegration. It is not just about winning a game; it is about winning back peace of mind and forging connections that transcend borders and hardships.
To understand how the K-par-Cas 2 works, simply click here!
Online Course on Mental Health & Migration Awareness Raising
During this course, you will learn how migration impact mental health and how one can support migrants and vulnerable people during awareness raising activities. The course will provide you with resources to better understand mental health as it relates to migration.
Target public: practitioners in awareness raising or a professional keen to learn more about migration and mental health-related topics.
Through our awareness raising campaigns and activities, IOM often works with returned migrants, or returnees, to reach out to communities and peers. When doing this, we should be aware of one important thing: mental health.
Promoting returnees’ mental health, and that of their families and communities at large is vital to empower people to (re-) build a creative and positive life plan taking advantages of the migration experience. Raising awareness on the mental health and psychosocial challenges of the “return migration” creates the optimal conditions to support this process of reinstalling psychosocial wellbeing.
In this blog we’ll explain what mental health is, why returnees’ psychosocial wellbeing matters, and share the benefits of mainstreaming a psychosocial approach into awareness raising activities.
What is mental health?
World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to contribute to his or her community.
You should keep in mind that mental health does not mean the same for all people, and the way people express feelings of wellbeing or distress are contextually and culturally grounded.
How does return migration impact psychosocial wellbeing?
The migration process generally brings changes in the identity which is a central concept of the psychosocial wellbeing of both individuals and groups. Identity defines who you are, how you perceive yourself and the world, how you are perceived by others such as your family, friends and community members, how you build your own relations, and how you have interiorized social and cultural values.
One’s sense of identity and psychosocial wellbeing might be challenged during the ‘return journey’. For some returnees, being back home may be a bittersweet experience fraught with a multiplicity of emotional, social, economic and cultural challenges.
This often happens when return is associated with the idea of failure of an individual (and/or collective) life project, a broken dream or the result of difficult decisions. When coming back home, returnees might face stigmatization, rejection or discrimination by peers, family members and community at large. This takes a toll on their psychosocial wellbeing. It is therefore vital to address these issues.
What can you do?
Focus on two essential things throughout your interventions. First: recognize individual needs for psychosocial support and orient towards appropriate services. Second: mainstream psychosocial topics into your awareness raising strategies.
A good strategy is to work at the community level in addition to providing individual and targeted support. Indeed, families and communities can create a sense of belonging and safety, may offer protective, restorative and transformative support, promote acceptance and resilience which in turn may support the re-establishment of a sense of wellbeing. This video below, produced by IOM Ghana, highlights the importance of having any member of the community involved in improving the psychosocial well-being of returnees.
Keep in mind five important reasons on why mainstreaming psychosocial topics is important and can make awareness raising activities more impactful:
Improve mindfulness of what happens in the heart and mind of returnees.
Develop inclusiveness and positive attitude towards returnees by counteracting potential stigma.
Foster mutual understanding and acceptance.
Facilitate empowering ways of bottom-up psychosocial support and build more supportive community networks.
Prevent and promote returnees’ psychosocial wellbeing.
This article was written by Gaia Quaranta, IOM Regional Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Officer for West and Central Africa. Gaia has supported the 13 partner countries of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in building strategies for migrants and other beneficiaries to deal with mental health issues.