A stone's throw away from the Moria refugee camp is a clinic that’s become a lifeline for stressed parents and their children.

A fence may surround the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) clinic but the emphasis is on an "open doors" policy.

The primary healthcare facility was opened in late 2017 at the peak of the refugee crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The clinic operates an 'open door' policy despite the fence surround

It was set up at a time when the Moria camp was at peak capacity. More than 9,000 people were crammed into a site with a maximum capacity of 3,000.

The clinic only treats the most vulnerable residents living in Moria. 

45 minutes inside Greece's notorious migrant camp

"We see kids with respiratory tract infections, diarrhoea, skin diseases," explains Caroline Willemen, field coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières. "All of these conditions are linked to living in a place that is so overcrowded with a lack of hygiene."

"Last year we treated children from six to 18 years old for suicidal thoughts."

The clinic sees at least 100 children a day. Last September 120 children passed through the clinic on some of the busiest days. "We would have to turn people back at the gates," Caroline explains as she shows RTÉ News around the clinic.

Early on staff began to notice a disturbing trend. 

Many migrants were presenting with signs of depression. And it wasn’t just adults who were unable to cope, living in one of Europe’s most oversubscribed camps. Young children were also showing signs of depression, paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

A makeshift tent is full of parents trying to placate their sick children

The charity opened a second specialist clinic in Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, to help treat the most severe mental health cases.

"Last year we treated children from six to 18 years old for suicidal thoughts," says Fabrizio Carucci, Mental Health Activity Manager for MSF on the island of Lesbos.

"They suffer from anxiety because they are already traumatised from the journey. But living in Moria can re-traumatise them. They cannot find a solution and sometimes they think the only way to be free is to be suicidal."

At the Moria clinic a makeshift tent is full of anxious parents trying to placate their sick children.

There's a tense atmosphere as mothers try to stop their young babies crying. The older children sit alone or stare blankly into the distance. 

In one of the containers an Afghan mother-of-eight cradles her six-month-old daughter. 

Sobide is struggling to breathe and has been hooked up to a nebuliser to clear her airways. 

Doctors suspect she has bronchiolitis, a chest infection affecting babies and young children.

Sobide is struggling to breathe and has been hooked up to a nebuliser

Her father looks on with a worried expression on his face. I ask him if we can film Sobide getting treated and he tells our translator "No, what difference will it make?"

I explain that it will highlight the difficulties parents face living in a camp with little or no medical facilities.

‘"But will it help my Sobide?" he asks me directly, in a firm but polite manner. 

I explain that conditions may not improve immediately but it could make a difference for another family. He agrees on the condition that we spread his message that ‘"many more children are suffering like Sobide in unhygienic conditions."

"If all goes to plan the actual birth happens in a hospital. But after three days you are dismissed and return to Moria and live with a kid who is three-days-old in a tent."

There's a major shortage of doctors and nurses at the Moria camp. Last year, aid groups say there was only one physician on site to treat 9,000 migrants. 

Zahra  (left) says the cramped living quarters are making children sick

Mother-of-two Zahra Heidary has taken her five-year-old son Ali to see the doctor.

She tells staff that the cramped living quarters are making lots of children sick.

''We recently moved to a container with 13 other people, it's tiny and has lots of other sick children," she says with tears in her eyes.

"Some of the diseases are contagious and can be transmitted to each other so I'm always worried for my two boys."

Oxfam has condemned the EU over the conditions at the Moria camp.

Pregnant women and mothers with newborns are left sleeping in tents with no privacy and inadequate medical facilities.

"If all goes to plan the actual birth happens in a hospital," says Caroline Willemen. "But after three days you are dismissed and return to Moria and live with a kid who is three-days-old in a tent."

In one of the surgeries a message is scrawled on a wall: 'You are Amazing'.

A message on a wall in the clinic

It's a simple but positive statement that helps boost morale for both staff and the parents who pass through the clinic. 

It’s clear that volunteers are not content with treating just physical ailments; they also want to heal hearts and minds.