Asylum seekers suffer as communities dispersed

March 1, 2002

Asylum seekers are suffering mental health problems because of government policies of separating groups and replacing cash bene-fits with vouchers, Stirling Uni-versity researchers have found.

Iain Ferguson, of Stirling's department of applied social science, who headed the research commissioned by the Glasgow Association for Mental Health, said asylum seekers in the city complained of anxiety and depression, with sleep problems particularly common. Vouchers were seen as the biggest single source of stress. Asylum seekers found them humiliating and degrading.

Dr Ferguson said a number of the interviewees were separated from members of their community after arriving in Britain.

"In several cases they were separated from other family members, which they found particularly distressing," he said.

"The major problem was social isolation, and the major service that people felt would be helpful was a befriending system, linking the asylum seekers to Glasgow families as a way of introducing them to this society."

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