Access to the NHS is still a major issue for refugees and asylum seekers in London . We work very closely with the Primary Care Trust’s Refugee Health Team which is the only major and relevant local refugee health project that is directly linked to the NHS. Between us we try to share information and use our networks to help people who need access to the NHS.
Health problems are sometimes triggered by immigration or housing issues and in the past two years we have seen a significant rise in mental health issues among asylum seekers. While this is a serious issue for this particular part of the community, it has also wider implications and cannot nor should be ignored.
In addition to the extensive casework above we have organised several very successful health seminars and workshops thanks to the effort of our outreach worker who organised these in partnership with the Refugee Health Team.
The mental health development worker post is shared by two part-time staff and came into being as a result of increasing mental health queries by our clients.
Refugees and asylum seekers living in the community face restricted access to work, education, housing, welfare, and – in some situations – to basic health care services. This has a strong effect on their psychological state. We are often the first point of contact for refugees and asylum seekers who have difficulty in securing access and information about mental health services in different languages.
Refugees and asylum seekers living in the community face restricted access to work, education, housing, welfare, and – in some situations – to basic health care services
The aim of our Mental Health Development workers is to:-
- facilitate access for refugees and asylum seekers to mental health and NHS services in Southwark (referring, as appropriate, to our key referrals agencies, develop pathway plans to address their needs and effective intervention)
- assist in the development of new partnerships to raise awareness about mental health issues of refugees and asylum seekers within the local Primary Care Trust and other mental health agencies
- contribute towards the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers’s vision and strategic development, improvement of day centre services and exploration of mental health training for staff and volunteers