Social workers and mental health professionals should refuse to
provide expert evidence in asylum cases if they feel it is
inappropriate, a solicitor urged last week, writes
Tim Barnden, of south-London based firm Glazer Delmar, warned that
some solicitors were seeking medical and other reports to
strengthen their cases when it was sometimes unnecessary.
Speaking at a conference on mental health and unaccompanied minors
in London, Barnden said some solicitors were under a
“misapprehension” that some of their clients
experienced mental health problems.
He said: “You may find solicitors coming to you seeking to
medicalise their client. You should not be shy about turning round
and saying that it is not relevant. Truth is always the best
building block for a case.”
Barnden added that some solicitors mistakenly believed that asylum
seekers who had been tortured would automatically develop a mental
health problem such as post traumatic stress disorder but research
had shown the majority of people would not.
“No psychiatrist or psychologist should be diagnosing an
illness that is not there. It is clearly unethical and it does not
help the client.”
He warned that “rushing to medicalise” people could
have devastating implications for them and there was a danger they
could develop mental health problems as a result, and overuse of
diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder could mean those
genuinely suffering would not be taken seriously by the courts.