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Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

News and updates from today's conference focusing on improving Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees including providing Emotional First Aid for Refugees.

Delivering psychosocial first aid to refugees: applications from the Red Cross
Kathryn Baldacchinno
, Anti Trafficking Programme Manager, British Red Cross

Pre-Conference  Abstract 
Recent years have seen an unprecedented increase in protracted conflicts and the largest global displacement of people since World War 2.  Refugees fleeing conflicts, trauma and persecution encounter further crises and challenges on their way, including: family separation, the risk of trafficking, lack of control and information, lack of legal advice, disorientation, isolation, mental and physical ill health, homelessness, long term destitution and detention.  The British Red Cross is one of 190 National Societies within the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement who work together around the world to assist people impacted by migration, including people seeking asylum irrespective of their legal status, whose survival, dignity or mental health is under threat.  The aim is to prevent and reduce the vulnerability of migrants, and protect them against abuses, exploitation and denial of rights.  

In the UK, the British Red Cross has a long tradition of supporting vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers.  We are now the biggest single, non-contracted provider of this support in the UK; reaching out to more than 13,000 people every year in 60 towns and cities.  We help people adjust to life in a number of ways, from providing emergency food to restoring family links and delivering psychosocial support to enable people settle in to new and unfamiliar places.  

This presentation considers the global and UK contexts for refugees and trafficked people, and provides a summary of the services that the Red Cross provide across Europe and the UK.  The British Red Cross has its own psychosocial framework which underpins the way that services are delivered.  The framework, known as CALMER provides a holistic and integrated approach to delivering person centred care.  The way that CALMER is used to respond to refugees and trafficked people will be introduced, along with the resources that the British Red Cross has evolved to supporting people to manage the impact of the work on those who support refugees.

By the end of the session, participants will have had the opportunity to develop:
•    An appreciation of some of the UK and global contexts currently facing refugees and trafficked people
•    An awareness of some of the services the Red Cross delivers in Europe and the UK
•    An understanding of the way that CALMER is used to deliver psychosocial support to refugees and trafficked people
•    An awareness of some of the organisational systems that can be useful to support people delivering services to refugees.

Kathryn comments: "Psychosocial Support - Often peole tell us that it is this aspect of our support that they appreciate.
We've developed a framework which is a basic level of work.  We're not trying to be sure we're able and equipt to meet the needs in front of us.
We also train people so we can support each other adn recognise when we ourselves need support."

Full PowerPoint Presentation


Providing access to healthcare for refugees arriving in the UK, mental health crisis support, and meeting IASC Guidelines

Dr Peter Gough, Doctors of the World UK, Part of the Médecins due Monde network

Pre-Conference  Abstract
The world is facing unprecedented displacement of people from their homes. 65.3 million were forcibly displaced worldwide in 2015 due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations; 5.8 million more than the previous year (UNHCR 2016). This Global crisis has resulted in crises and traumas for many individuals. There are many challenges facing Refugees and Asylum Seekers including the political, social, cultural and ideological contexts and confrontation with previously held assumptions prejudices aspirations beliefs and values. Worries generated and their impact on the physical social psychological and spiritual dimensions of the individual refugees, asylum seekers and their families all create existential challenges to life’s meaning, past present and future. Those involved in Mental Health and Psychosocial Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees have an important part to play in addressing these issues and will face challenges themselves. I will address the challenges faced by both migrants and those supporting them and propose ways of approaching these challenges which I hope will stimulate thought as well as provide a practical framework.

Dr Gough comments: "65 million people in the world have been forcebly displaced, over half being under 18
DOTW run 400 programmes in 82 countries.
Everyone in this country has a right to a GP.
Average length that poeple have been in this country is 6.5 years.  People sit on illnesses for a long time
Barriers vulnerable migrants face are: undertsanding the NHS, cultural differences in healthcare and Language."

Full PowerPoint Presentation

Working with asylum seekers and refugees who have experienced trauma
David Amias
, Consultant Systemic Psychotherapist Refugee Service, The Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Pre-Conference Abstract
The recent upsurge of refugees and migrants seeking asylum in Europe, having been driven from their homes by political unrest, present manifold challenges for professionals and front-line workers. How can we help to build resilience for professionals and volunteers involved in this work? What skills, approaches and tools may be appropriate for providing services to people feeling intense insecurity with somatic, physical and psychological symptoms, torn away from their roots and supportive networks?

The Tavistock Refugee service is the only dedicated CAMHS for refugees and asylum seekers in the country, and the home of the first and longest running course in the country to offer masters level training in refugee care which attracts students from all around the world. In the light of heightened public concern about the plight of migrants and asylum seekers the service has received a considerable number of requests within the last three months to help train front–line workers in voluntary and statutory contexts in working with Unaccompanied and Separated Children (UASC). 

This presentation will briefly describe the clinical work of the team which offers a range of psychotherapeutic and psychosocial individual, family and group interventions drawing upon systemic, narrative and psychodynamic approaches. This includes the work of an Emotional Well-Being group for young people which incorporates psychosocial techniques as well as psychoeducational approaches to address physical symptoms of trauma.  Tree of Life, Team of Life and Recipes of Life are three further examples of Narrative-based group work that the team undertakes with young refugees and asylum seekers. Short video clips of this work will be shown to illustrate their effectiveness.
Full PowerPoint Presentation

Related events:

Improving Psychological Therapies For Mental Health Trauma National Summit 2017
Friday 8 December 
De Vere West One Conference Centre, London

Psychological Therapies in the NHS
Wednesday 21 March — Thursday 22 March 
Millenium Conference Centre, London

Depression in adults: treatment and management
Friday 27 April 
De Vere West One Conference Centre, London

7 December 2017


    Partner Organisations

    The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation TrustInPracticeClinical Audit Support CentrePlayoutJust For Nurses
    GGI (Good Governance Institute) accredited conferences CPD Member ASGBI (Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland) professional partner BADS (British Association of Day Surgery) accredited conferences