Mental health and wellbeing

I’m Beth and I’ve been a volunteer here at Refugee Action – Colchester for the last two years.

Since graduating from my master in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex, I have been working with RA-C on a research project funded by the National Institute for Health Research. The project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of statutory mental health services in the Colchester area by considering their impact and accessibility for RA-C’s clients.

Mental health and wellbeing are concepts which impact on all our lives; they affect our thoughts, actions and other people around us.

In the last year, we have all become increasingly aware of the importance of mental health support, particularly given the isolating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on our ability to socialise face-to-face. Mental health support is particularly vital for our clients, many of whom suffer from complex mental health issues following trauma, torture and other forms of abuse in their home countries or on their journeys to the UK. However, not all our clients are eligible to access mental health services, and those who are eligible, often experience multiple obstacles in their attempts to access support. This project allows us to fully consider these barriers, which include language, cultural differences and financial instability and destitution.  

To assess how mental health services and other community services can better support the needs of RA-C’s clients, the project involves qualitative research methods, namely in-depth interviews with clients. I have been conducting these interviews with the use of visual tools such as the wellbeing star, which you can see in the image above.

In addition, I have undertaken interviews with RA-C caseworkers to consider their perspective on how their clients have been impacted by the service. The project also aims to consider the role of RA-C in promoting mental health and wellbeing, which may assist in future funding bids to continue our essential community and befriending services.

This project is of vital importance to understand how we can best support the mental health and wellbeing of our clients.

We hope this project will allow us to identify gaps in local services and evaluate what can be done to ensure our clients receive the support they need.