Addressing mental health needs of asylum seekers and refugees in a London Borough: developing a service model
The aim of the study was to investigate the experiences of professionals who treat asylum seekers and refugees, as well as those responsible for the planning, management and delivery of mental health services to this group in Haringey; and to identify and address key areas of difficulty to assist development of appropriate mental health services for this group in Haringey. Individual face to face interviews were conducted with the service providers using a semi-structured interview schedule. The results were triangulated with another study done in general practices in Haringey. Fourteen service providers – health professionals, service managers and commissioners who were involved in responding to the mental health needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Haringey. Findings from a previous study were used for primary care professionals’ views. The main issues faced by providers in dealing with mental health needs of asylum seekers and refugees were: increased demands placed on the time and resources of already stretched mental health services, language and cultural barriers, the difficulties in working through interpreters in delivering therapy, and the need for longer consultation time. Asylum seekers and refugees were felt to seek health professionals’ help with matters that were outside the professionals’ remit. Some providers were unsure of the appropriateness of the western model of treating mental illness for this group. Development of better information on these particular groups locally, and the use of appropriately trained health professionals from the asylum seeker and refugee community to both inform and provide mental health services, would be appropriate responses. A model of service provision addressing the wider influences on the mental health of this group is proposed, that would address the concerns raised by providers and users.(Published Online October 31 2006)
(Received November 2005)
(Accepted March 2006)
Key Words: asylum seekers; mental health; needs assessment; refugees.
c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Tania Misra, Specialist Registrar in Public Health, Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine, 3rd floor, The Reynolds Building, Charing Cross Hospital, Imperial College, London W6 8RP. Email: email@example.com