Refugee Council has urged the UK government to ensure that refugees are reunited swiftly and safely with their loved ones.
In a message to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, Dr Lisa Doyle, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council said: "Refugees have often experienced trauma that most of us find hard to imagine and their distress and anxiety doesn’t end when they reach safety. Restrictive immigration policies often result in refugees’ separation from their families being prolonged which causes unnecessary additional stress and worry. It’s vital that refugees in the UK are reunited swiftly and safely with their loved ones, and are given the specialist support they need in order to begin rebuilding their lives.”
The Refugee Council has teamed up with the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) to support this year’s World Mental Health Day.
World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to combat stigma around mental health.
Drawing on this year’s theme of Psychological First Aid, the BPC, UKCP and Refugee Council are using the opportunity to draw attention to the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and the hundreds of thousands of adults and children fleeing war-torn homelands.
The three organisations point out that all refugees will have faced hardships and have suffered acute distress and trauma.
They therefore need psychological first aid from mental health professionals and the support of any family and friends they have left.
Helen Morgan, Chair of the BPC said: "It is hard to imagine the psychological stress and trauma experienced by children and adults who flee war, devastation and famine in their homeland and then suffer the dangers and deprivation of the long journey to safety.
"On reaching Europe these individuals need our help and support in repairing the mental as well as the physical damage caused by such extreme experiences. The fostering of any family ties which still remain together with help from psychotherapists with appropriate experience and expertise will be crucial in any process of recovery.”
Janet Weisz, CEO of UKCP added: "Hundreds of thousands of refugees have been making the hazardous journey via the Mediterranean Sea and land routes to seek sanctuary and new hope in Europe after facing danger and turmoil in their countries of origin.
"Such traumatising experiences and crowded conditions are unquestionably stressful, and when they reach Europe they are met with more uncertainty and concerns about food, shelter, separation from their family, and even detention.
"As psychotherapists, we know that surviving such plights have a significant impact on mental health and it is important that those in need are given access to appropriate psychological help.”