Entitled Forced to Flee: Co-designing a peer-led community approach to support the mental health of refugees, the project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), and is the result of a three-year collaboration between researchers, refugees and refugee services.
Refugees can be seen as one of the most vulnerable groups within the United Kingdom. Experiencing displacement and resettlement can result in high levels of mental distress, but language barriers and difficulty in understanding how to access healthcare systems can make it difficult to find and access help.
Now a collaboration between academic researchers, refugee services and refugee communities in Plymouth and Gloucester is working to develop a peer-led community model to make finding help easier. Researchers learned that refugees preferred a model of peer support to improve their mental health but that little research existed on how and if this model worked. During the study, supported by NIHR ARC South West Peninsula (PenARC), peer support workers will work with refugees to develop a shared language about mental health, using this to identify health goals and access support.
Engagement with the local community is a key aspect of the project. People who are refugees will be helping to develop the model while gaining research and design skills, and employment and an advisory panel and local impact group will link the study to other refugee initiatives and networks, ensuring that the model is widely shared. The PenARC Patient and Public Involvement team will be instrumental to the development of the study and ensuring that the voices of displaced people are heard.