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News and Updates for todays Mental Health Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees Providing Emotional First Aid for Refugees: Fifth Annual Conference

A Refugee Perspective
Gulwali Passarlay, 
Activist, Consultant, and Author of ‘The Lightless Sky’, an Afghan refugee boy’s journey of escape to a new life in Britain
Gulwali is a dedicated advocate and spokesperson for refugees and asylum seekers across the U.K and is the Co-Founder of not-for-profit organisation “My Bright Kite CIC”.
Since arriving in the UK in 2007 after being forced to leave Afghanistan as a 12 year old boy, Gulwali has achieved beyond all odds to become a well-respected and sought after public speaker, influencer and political campaigner for refugee’s rights, social justice and education. The experience of his journey to the UK shaped his future and inspired an insatiable determination and commitment to raise awareness and make a difference for other refugees.

Improving Support for Asylum Seekers and Refugees
Prof Cornelius Katona, 
Medical Director The Helen Bamber Foundation, College Lead on the Mental Health of Asylum Seekers and Refugees, The Royal College of Psychiatrists 
Pre Event Abstract
My presentation will outline the range of experiences and adversities consequent on human rights abuse and the importance of post-migration experiences in determining mental health outcomes. I will discuss concepts of complex trauma and their implications for treatment in more detail. Clinical responses to complex trauma and its aftermath include feelings of loss, pain, and shame, loss of trust or a sense of agency, and dissociative behaviour. These impair survivors’ ability to tell their story clearly and consistently, and perpetuates the disbelief and rejection they experience. An integrated approach to client care is crucial in ensuring that key needs are identified and addressed. Statutory and non-governmental agencies need to work together to ensure a holistic approach to assessing clients’ needs comprehensively - even where these extend beyond the range of needs that an individual service can meet. Signposting and inter-agency communication and joint working is crucial to the care of survivors of human rights abuses and facilitates their sustained recovery. In this context, I will outline the Model of Integrated Care (MoIC) developed by the late Helen Bamber.  I will conclude by emphasising the potential for professionals working in this field to experience stress and burnout and the need for individuals and organisations to address this risk.
Full PowerPoint Presentation

Widening access to specialist Mental Health Services for Asylum Seekers and Refugee Communities
Maurice Wren, 
Chief Executive, Refugee Council
Pre Event Abstract
The UK asylum system is determinedly utilitarian in its design, focussing almost exclusively on the provision of accommodation and subsistence support. Consequently, the system struggles to respond appropriately to the fact that many of the people seeking refugee protection in the UK have been traumatised by their experiences in their home countries, on their journeys to exile and/or by the treatment they receive once they are in the UK.
This high level of traumatisation undermines the ability of many people seeking protection to engage effectively with the determination process, usually to the detriment of their asylum claim. As well as further affecting their mental wellbeing, the lack of appropriate provision also impacts on the functioning of the asylum process.
With NHS mental health services largely unable to meet the specific therapeutic and psychological needs of traumatised refugees, NGO’s have long led the way in the provision of specialist, trauma informed therapeutic support. However, NGOs’ reliance on charitable funding to meet their costs limits the capacity and scope of these services and access is therefore something of a postcode lottery.
The Refugee Council has been working with the Home Office to encourage CCGs to use the funding available under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme for additional health costs incurred by resettled refugees in the UK to commission specialist therapeutic support in their areas. In doing so, the Refugee Council also seeks to convince the Home Office that early access to specialist therapeutic support should be made an integral part of the UK’s asylum system.  

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 du Monde Network
Pre Event Abstract
Doctors of the World UK, part of the international Medecins du Monde network, runs programmes in both the UK and overseas supporting, amongst other groups, vulnerable migrants who struggle to access healthcare. Our east London clinic for vulnerable migrants sees around 1800 people a year. Many of the people we see struggle to access basic health services, despite being entitled to them, something that often has a negative impact on the mental health of people who are already amongst society’s most vulnerable
Our international projects use the IASC’s layered intervention pyramid as a guide to service delivery, ensuring that in all situations the most basic MHPSS responses are integrated into our interventions as soon as possible after an emergency, in cooperation with other actors.  People are affected in many different ways by emergencies and often require different kinds of supports hence the need for this layered approach to interventions.
Full PowerPoint Presentation


Also of Interest

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Friday 14 December 2018, London

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Monday 4 February 2019, London

16 November 2018


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