Mind slams mental health provision for asylum seekers


The UK asylum system is triggering and exacerbating mental health problems in people seeking refuge, Mind warned today.

In a report the charity billed as the first to map mental health provision for asylum seekers and refugees, it said people were often denied access to key services and treatments.

It said mental healthcare in detention centres was inadequate to meet the high levels of need, particularly of people with severe and long-term problems.

It also found limited and variable use of interpreters by mainstream mental health services, as well as inadequate provision of culturally appropriate services.

The report also highlighted limited availability of therapeutic and psychological services and provision to treat those who have experienced torture, and said mental health provision for children and young people was “extremely limited”.

Marcel Vige, manager of the charity’s Diverse Minds network, said: “Accessing services is hugely difficult for a wide range of reasons, from language barriers to the stigma surrounding mental health, and this further marginalises [refugees and asylum seekers] to the isolated fringes of society.”

The report’s recommendations include for primary care trusts in England and Welsh local health boards to:

• Provide compulsory training for frontline staff on understanding the refugee experience and in using interpreting services.

• Recruit more bilingual staff and ensure provision of culturally appropriate services for asylum seekers and refugees.

• Develop and invest in mental health services for refugee and asylum-seeking children.

It also urged the government to end the ban on refused asylum seekers accessing secondary healthcare and review the practice of detaining asylum seekers with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Diverse Minds is open to anyone with an interest in mental health in black and ethnic minority communities.

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