Refugees face greater risk of mental health problems: study

Attention should also be paid to their vaccination

15th October 2010: Asylum seekers and refugees have greater risk of serious mental health problems, as they are often fleeing persecution, violence, disaster or disease. As such, mental health issues in their case need to be considered.
Attention should also be paid to vaccination as many migrants come from countries where childhood vaccination programmes are poorly administered or are different from the UK programmes

These are among the findings of a report, which aims to identify and understand the health needs of migrants in the South East.

The report, `Understanding the health needs of migrants in the South East region’ was commissioned by the Department of Health and produced by the South East Migrant Health Study Group.

The research collaboration led by Thames Valley Health Protection Unit, includes South East Public Health Observatory; the University of Oxford; NHS Berkshire East Primary Care Trust; Slough Borough Council and the Health Protection Agency’s Centre for Infections.

The others finding suggests how to reach migrant groups should be considered and they should be specifically included in health improvement programmes, including smoking cessation.

The findings further suggest current health and social care databases contain limited information on health needs and service use of migrants. The requirement is to change this for allowing better understanding of need for service commissioners and providers.

It adds infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, pose specific challenges to some migrant communities. Specific action by public health partners is, as such, required.

The report goes on to say many face barriers while accessing healthcare services. One of the reasons could be failure to understand what services are available and how to use them. The other factors could be confusion around entitlement to NHS care, language and cultural barriers.

The key recommendations are more ‘intelligent’ data sources which can map across health and social care databases appropriately to describe this population’s experience of health and disease; health service use and access to services; better information for migrants about the range of health services available and their appropriate use with attention to language issues to ensure migrants understand their entitlement to care and how to access it.

The other recommendations are better training for health and social care workers in understanding their roles in meeting the needs of migrants; and joint working across agencies to address social problems that may have a negative health impact.


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Migrants constitute `dynamic group’: report