Mental health support services for migrant communities in Islington

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Islington as part of the Diverse Communities Partnershuip undertook research into mental ill health given the high prevalence of this condition in the borough. In February 2020 they carried out interviews with some of these residents to find out what their experiences were of accessing the mental health support available in the borough, with a particular emphasis on services commissioned by Islington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Additionally, representatives of each Diverse Communities organisation were interviewed. They were asked about the clients they supported and how their needs were changing, and how their organisation interacted with statutory services. They interviewed 73 Islington residents, 70 of whom were registered with an Islington GP. All participants were aged 18+ and were experiencing/living with mental health issues that required or would benefit from additional support.

As expected a range of barriers exist and these vary from person to person. Despite high levels of need, awareness of services remains low amongst residents.

Whilst the Mental Health First Aid training has been very useful for some partners in identifying need, it is not always possible to tell whether clients then follow up. Not all staff knew about all the support services, and it was suggested that they co-ordinated joint visits to statutory funded services or hosted joint visits from statutory funded services. ICOPE was noted as being particularly hard to contact, but partners understood that they are very busy.

The wellbeing activities on offer, the peer support and the physical location, all can help clients with their wellbeing and physical health, managing anxiety. For example, with the recent Coronavirus pandemic, people look to these organisations for reassurance and support on a range of issues.

Specialist BMER (Black Minority Ethnic and Refugee) organisations build up trust and can reach clients that others may not reach, and they can open up conversations that others may not be able to. These organisations can then advise them on their mental health and support them to access services. However, if there is no appropriate support to direct them to, or the waiting lists are long (as is the case with culturally specific mother tongue counselling) this is problematic.

Statutory support services that impact on mental health, such as housing and welfare advice, can also be difficult to access.

The report contains seven recommendations about resourcing for culturally specific organisations; support for grassroots BMER organisations working with residents with high-level, complex needs in a community setting, better information, access to talking therapies, referrals and awareness raising.

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General details

Report title 
Mental health support services for migrant communities in Islington
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Islington
Date of publication 
Thursday, 29 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Saturday, 1 February, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Saturday, 29 February, 2020
Key themes 
Communication between staff and patients
Health inequalities
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
Focus group
Structured interview
Unstructured Interview
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Mental health
Types of long term conditions 
Mental health condition
What type of pregnancy or maternity themes are included in the report 

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Asian / Asian British
Black/ African / Caribbean / Black British
Mixed / multiple ethnic groups
Other ethnic group
Specific ethnicity if known 
Any other Asian background
Any other Black/African/Caribbean background
Any other ethnic group
Any other White background
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Other population characteristics 
Refugees or asylum seekers
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.