Improving Mental Health Services for Vulnerable Migrants

We know migrants (including refugees and asylum seekers as well as economic migrants, spouses and students) often experience considerable mental distress.

Many will have faced oppression, war and torture in their country of origin and may be experiencing various mental health problems such as anxiety, stress and depression.

Not only are their mental health needs greater than most, but migrants often face a number of obstacles accessing mental health services, including the language barrier, cultural differences, stigma, racism and confusion.

NHS staff are confused by the complex policy concerning access to free healthcare for foreign nationals and, as a consequence, many migrants are wrongly denied primary and secondary mental health services, and their mental health deteriorates to the point of crisis.

We want:

  • Appropriate and accessible mental health services for all migrants
  • Policy-makers, commissioners and service providers to be aware of the key issues affecting migrants and the difficulties they experience in getting treatment for their mental health issues.
  • Commissioners to engage more effectively with voluntary and community sector service providers and refugee communities in order to build sustainable relationships to inform needs assessments and service design and delivery.
  • NHS managers and service providers to develop the skills and awareness of their staff by providing training courses on migrant mental health.
  • Full entitlement to free secondary healthcare for all refused asylum seekers until the point at which they return to their country of origin.

Mind is a member of Still Human Still Here - coalition of more than 40 organisations that are campaigning to end the destitution of thousands of refused asylum seekers in the UK. The campaign calls for the UK government to provide free access to healthcare for all asylum seekers while they are in the UK.

What are we doing?

The Equality Improvement Team at Mind have worked with migrant communities, local Mind associations and mental healthcare commissioners and providers across England and Wales, in order to improve access to appropriate mental health support for all migrant communities.

We have produced reports and researches on the challenges faced by vulnerable migrants. All resources are freely downloadable from our Resources page

Our new manual: Commissioning for migrant communities

We’re proud to present our new manual Mental health commissioning with migrant communities.

We want to help local decision makers, commissioners and service providers better understand and assess the needs of vulnerable migrant communities. This can lead to improved local services access and culturally sensitive support for vulnerable migrants. We believe our manual will provide the guidance and information you need to achieve this.

At a time of austerity and cuts to services, the most isolated in our communities, including vulnerable migrants, feel ignored and are crying out for support. Sustained and meaningful engagement with service providers, migrant community members, and commissioners can help. It improves understanding of the problems vulnerable migrants face and can lead to creative, inclusive and viable solutions.

Read the manual

Commissioning mental health services for vulnerable migrants

commissioning mental health services for vulnerable adult migrants

You can download our newest commissioning guidance here, produced to support better commissioning of mental health services for vulnerable adult migrants.

We believe this is a key tool to enable commissioners to have a thorough knowledge of their local migrant population, and a good understanding both of their mental health needs and of their experience of using mental health services.

Take action

  • If you provide mental health services to migrants, let us know about your work. We are always looking for good practice in mental health service design and delivery.

Using this guidance to commission services will help empower one of society’s most vulnerable groups to get the most appropriate and accessible healthcare required

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