How a Refugee Began to Have Hope Again

refugee mental health story image

This is a story of a refugee in Lewisham experiencing mental health problems…

“I was 34 years old when I was referred to the Community Support Service [CSS]. I have been a refugee living in Lewisham for a year, and I have tried to kill myself twice since I have been here. I was tortured in my home country and my family were killed. I find it hard to sleep because of nightmares and I am often scared. I worry, I have injuries from my torture, and I lost all my confidence to be with others.

I know I only have support from my Mental Health Adviser for 12 weeks so I have made the most of it, and we have planned for when I leave CSS.

I have “no recourse to public funds” and I could not afford to sign in with the Immigration Service in Croydon every two weeks. I was supported to change to monthly signing, to apply for £37 per week asylum payments, and I was given local food bank vouchers. I am now on a waiting list with a charity which gives bicycles to asylum seekers so I will be able to get to the activities I want to do.

I am going to go to CSS’s small group workshops like ‘Managing Mental Health’, ‘Better by Joining In’, ‘Mind and Body MOT’ and ‘Boost Your Self’ to help me get used to being in groups.

My Advisor has supported me to link with local refugee charities for free English classes and to meet others with a similar history.

I have never had counselling for my PTSD, but Mind has helped me to find a charity which will do this for me, and I self-harm less.

I have been without hope for a long time but now I hope to join some Mind Peer Support activity groups when I leave CSS, and to eventually volunteer with some of the charities who have helped me.”

Community Mental Health Support in Lewisham

Lewisham Community Support Service provides an intensive 12 weeks of individual, support to adults experiencing mental health problems, with an option for extension for up to six months.

The service focuses on supporting people to achieve their personal goals, manage their own mental health and regain control of their lives and choices. The team of Mental Health Advisors also help people to engage with their local community and provides structured courses and groups in response to identified needs.

From April 2016 – March 2017, a total 798 people used the Community Support Service. People who were discharged during the year gave an average score of 9.7 (on a scale of 1-10) regarding how helpful the service had been.

Mind Peer Support in Lewisham grew further during the year, with the number of service users increasing by 17% and a total of 27 Peer Support Volunteers delivering an average of 11 activity sessions each week.

Groups running on a regular basis in community venues across the Borough included:

  • Living with Suspicion
  • Hearing Voices
  • Women’s Group
  • Mindfulness
  • Film Club
  • Stress Management & Relaxation
  • Reflective Writing
  • Music Appreciation,
  • Creative Arts & Crafts
  • Explore Walking and Social Group.

Find out more about Bromley & Lewisham Mind services in our Annual Review 2017.