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Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Mental Health in the UK

Prof Cornelius Katona
Peter Hughes
Mind, State and Society: Social History of Psychiatry and Mental Health in Britain 1960–2010

The Helen Bamber Foundation's Director of Research, Prof. Cornelius Katona, has contributed a chapter to the newly published book Mind State and Society: Social History of  Psychiatry and Mental Health in Britain 1960-2010. 

The book is part  the Royal College Psychiatrists marking of 180 years since the founding of  the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums and Hospitals for the Insane in 1841, the earliest predecessor of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and 50 years since the granting of the Royal Charter, which established the College itself in 1971. 

Mind, State and Society

Mind, State and Society examines the reforms in psychiatry and mental health services in Britain during 1960–2010, when de-institutionalisation and community care coincided with the increasing dominance of ideologies of social liberalism, identity politics and neoliberal economics.

Featuring contributions from leading academics, policymakers, mental health clinicians, service users and carers, it offers a rich and integrated picture of mental health, covering experiences from children to older people; employment to homelessness; women to LGBTQ+; refugees to black and minority ethnic groups; and faith communities and the military. It asks important questions such as: what happened to peoples' mental health? What was it like to receive mental health services? And how was it to work in or lead clinical care? Seeking answers to questions within the broader social-political context, this book considers the implications for modern society and future policy. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.

Refugees, Asylum and Mental Health in the UK 

In 2007, there were 11.4 million refugees worldwide of which the UK had just 3 per cent. This was about 300,000 people or 0.5 per cent of the UK population.2 The story in the UK is one of both welcome and rejection.3 It brings out the best and the worst of society. Refugees are traumatised by not only the experiences of their homeland and their journey but also settling in the UK.4 They have been disbelieved, accused of embellishing their stories to get asylum and subjected to racism.5 Both authors could retell gruelling accounts of torture, murder and humiliation. This is not what we want to do. We want to celebrate the resilience of refugees. We therefore dedicate this chapter to all those who came to the UK seeking protection and who have made a life in the UK against the odds.