The government’s programme to disperse asylum seekers is
failing to meet their mental health needs and is inadequately
funded, a new Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust report has revealed,
writes Anabel Unity Sale.
Dispersed: A study of services for asylum seekers in West
Yorkshire looked at five councils in the Yorkshire and
Humberside consortium dealing with asylum seekers. It says: “The
level of resourcing for many services is inadequate and there is a
lack of capacity in many arrears.” It added that the mental health
needs of asylum seekers were often unmet.
The report calls for the dispersal system to be much better
resourced by the National Asylum Support Service and by all
relevant departments. It recommended the Department of Health offer
more targeted mental health services for asylum seekers.
It says: “The Department of Health should provide funding and
training to promote the provision of appropriate and accessible
mental health services, through mainstream services and other
Melba Wilson, policy director of mental health charity Mind,
backed the reports call for additional funding of mental health
services for asylum seekers.
She told Community Care: “Asylum seekers and refugees
are very much overlooked and the result is their mental health
needs are unmet. Mental health services need to be made more
accessible and more appropriate for them. Agencies need to work at
getting better understanding of cultural differences and the
experience these people have been through.”
She added: “Asylum seekers need to be dealt with in a very real
and fundamental way in the statutory sector.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We provide financial
support to voluntary sector groups who provide mental health
services for refugees.”
She added: “Health authorities and local authorities make their
own arrangements to provide services. Health authority allocations
are intended to cover the costs of local populations, and these
include asylum seekers coming into an area.”
Refugee Council head of policy Alison Fenney said: “We welcome
this timely report, which clearly shows that the dispersal system
needs to be adequately resourced by the government in order to work
She added that similar research to that conducted in West
Yorkshire needed to be repeated on a national level.
Dispersed: A study of services for asylum seekers in
West Yorkshire from 01904 627 810.