Why is it important that people make mental health & well-being a global (world-wide) priority?

(STAFF): Mental health & well-being is a fundamental aspect of a person’s overall health. That means to achieve positive, long-term health outcomes, we have to ensure people have quality access to mental health support. People across the world are not able to easily access mental health support for many reasons (cost, language, stigma, childcare, etc) and this has left so many feeling alone and hopeless. But mental health issues shouldn’t make us feel hopeless – so many of us will experience mental health issues during our lives, and there are ways to learn to manage our symptoms and learn more about coping strategies and treatment options so that we can begin to feel more in control of our daily lives again.

(SU): “It is really important for everybody to focus on mental health. We should raise awareness to be more and more careful about mental health. For how long we will be living in this world our mental health must be a priority and we must learn more about it every single day because it is really matters”

What could government leaders do to make mental health & well-being a global priority?

(STAFF): Healthcare, including mental health support, is a fundamental human right. Government leaders should ensure that healthcare is of good quality, easy to access, and could also push as policy that healthcare is free for all. Governments could also push for national campaigns around de-stigmatising mental health support and mental health issues, so that there was no fear or shame around accessing mental health support. These would all go a long way to make mental health & well-being a global priority. 

(SU): Maybe they can make more social centres where people won’t be judged anymore if they talk about their mental health problems.

What could local services do to make mental health & well-being a global priority?

A healthy body includes a healthy mind, so healthcare services could implement a holistic approach to ensure they are looking at the whole patient, not just one aspect of a patient. That means looking at someone’s physical, mental, and emotional health in order to help or improve any one area.

Local mental health services (in the UK) could also ensure their services are actually accessible to people who may have many barriers placed in their way. This includes taking things like reimbursing travel, providing childcare options, providing high quality and appropriate interpreters in appointments, being flexible with appointment times, and ensuring mental health support is culturally aware and appropriate for each individual person.

What could the Home Office do to ensure that the mental health & well-being of asylum seekers and refugees is prioritised?

(SU): Here I would like to say more and more because I will talk from my own experience. When someone seeks asylum, he is seeking a safe place but not only a home but more than that. Everyone comes with different backgrounds and even at their (HO) offices you are not treated with dignity. What can you expect from them? To be honest I don’t like how do they approach to us because they forget that we are humans and we have feelings. Also, what about that we put our lives on a risks just to survive and what we get here is just discrimination and being treated worse than an animal. What can I say about the condition where do they put us for in initial accommodation? Is too much all of our experience as asylum seekers and home office doesn’t do nothing to help or make it easy”

Responses gathered from women receiving mental health support from RWC:

  • Allow asylum seekers the right to work so that they can support themselves and their families and not be cut off from everyone else
  • End policies that support deportations and detention centres
  • Ensure there are external mental health professionals working with HO to review applications where people are saying they are experiencing mental health issues
  • Allow mental health mentors or support workers to attend interviews for emotional support
  • Offer PTSD and trauma assessments in IA’s and for those experiencing acute mental health distress, ensure mental health advisors are involved in how decisions are made and how information is shared with SU’s
  • Offer appropriate specialist mental health support while people wait for their decisions to be made
  • Employ trained mental health staff to provide support in IA centres and provide safe women-only spaces or activities in IA’s

Why is the asylum system we see now so detrimental to the mental health & well-being of asylum seekers in particular?

“To be honest, until now I still feel anxiety when I see a yellow envelope in the mail. The way the HO sends information like it’s not important, like it doesn’t have the power to change your very life, is so upsetting. Information was sent to me in English with no information on how to ask for help and I didn’t understand these letters. I had no idea what the information was and this made me feel overwhelmed and upset. Feels like the HO doesn’t care – if they decide to refuse, it’s just one letter sent in your door, like you are nothing. Even today, I cannot open those yellow envelopes, they have affected my mental health so deeply, I think this will stay with me forever”

“IA centres are horrible, no respect for human lives, especially for pregnant women. I was made to go up three flights of stairs every day, multiple times a day, my whole pregnancy, even though I was bleeding and it was so much pain for me. Leaks and mould not fixed for months, people living with mice and the conditions make you feel you are not human. It makes you feel so alone and ruin your mental health. How can mental health be good if not treated human?”

“Not being able to work and use my skills to support my family while I waited made me feel so sick and isolated. Ruined my mental health and made me feel so worthless and alone”

What barriers exist that make it very hard to access mental health & well-being support as an asylum seeking or refugee woman?

“Takes forever to get mental health support through NHS and that is if you are lucky enough to not need interpreter like me. If you are suffering from war or violence and then left with no support here, your mental health cannot afford to wait many months for mental health support. Then when you get the support, they do not understand women in asylum system. Think all we do is talk about Home Office and want us to fit their model of mental health, but it does not fit us. Only RWC team has helped with my mental health because they listen to me and let me talk about what I need to talk about. I am leader of my health and they just guide me. I learn coping strategies and slowly I learn to manage my symptoms with their support”

Complete the following sentences to create a powerful statement for yourself:

“Make mental health & well-being a global priority so…every woman and man suffering with mental health problems can learn to survive, and able to enjoy their life”(STAFF): Make mental health & well-being a global priority so…that all women seeking sanctuary in the UK are able to receive mental health support as they focus on building new communities in the UK.
“My mental health & well-being matters because…I deserve to feel good. I want to be good for this country and my babies and myself – I want to be a part of something, my community. If my mental health is left with no support, how can I help myself, or move on? I will just be stuck, alone.”
(STAFF): Our mental health & well-being matters because…to provide quality mental health & wellbeing support we need to be able to access mental health support too so we can manage our own mental health so that we can be there for the people we provide support to!