Mental health support for asylum seekers and refugees

Social inclusion and cultural awareness

As part of the Complete Care Community programme our Equity team has launched a pilot scheme aimed at addressing the increased mental health and wellbeing needs of asylum seekers and refugees in Surrey. The aim is to help integrate people within their local community and offer activity-based support groups at the Asylum Seekers hotels in East Surrey.

Asylum seekers and refugees can be placed under enormous stress when seeking a permanent place of refuge. In fact, it is recognised that asylum seekers and refugees must process three particularly stressful events before resettling in a new country. These include:

  • Stage 1: Service-users have often lived in an unsafe environment. This can be in a country of war, or in a place where they felt threatened due to, for example, their ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender. All of these factors will leave individuals or whole families under immense stress where the only way forward is to escape.
  • Stage 2: Journeys can be unsafe and frightening
  • Stage 3: Resettling in a Western society with different norms, laws, healthcare and lots of cultural differences in unsettling for most and requires lots of adjustments.

These three main factors are the biggest contributors to stress causing severe anxiety to depression and PTSD. Our aim is to support the hotel guests and we work with local partners to deliver activities that will assist with integration, social inclusion and cultural awareness – all of which can reduce or prevent mental health issues.

The project has been launched in partnership with Healthy Horley PCN with support from the Complete Care Community Programme (CCCP) which continues to build a systematic, nationwide approach to tackling complex care needs in marginalised communities to reduce the health inequality gap.

Our work uses the Core20Plus5 approach – a national NHS-wide initiative to reduce health inequalities in a more collaborative way. The approach identifies ‘5’ focus clinical areas requiring accelerated improvement:

  • Maternity
  • Severe mental illness
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Early cancer diagnosis
  • Hypertension case-finding