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Providing mental healthcare to immigrants: current challenges and new strategies

Giacco, Domenico; Matanov, Aleksandra; Priebe, Stefan

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 282–288
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000065
PROVISION OF SERVICES TO PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS: Edited by Giovanni de Girolamo and Thomas Becker

Purpose of review The article reviews recent evidence on improving access to mental healthcare for immigrants and best practice of care provision.

Recent findings Language barriers, different beliefs and explanatory models of illness, confidentiality concerns, stigma, reluctance to seek psychological help outside families, and social deprivation may prevent immigrants from accessing mental healthcare. Pathways are influenced by families, primary care practitioners, voluntary organizations, and social services. Interpreting services are often not available, and data documentation on immigrants’ use of services is inconsistent. Nonmedical specific services for immigrants can be effective in outreach activities. Cultural training of staff can improve clinicians’ attitudes and patients’ satisfaction with care. Integrative approaches between primary and mental healthcare, psychoeducational programs, and technological innovations have been developed to improve access to care.

Summary Immigrants can face significant barriers in accessing mental healthcare. Strategies to overcome these barriers are as follows: increased coordination and communication between voluntary organizations, social services and mental health services; training of staff on cross-cultural issues; integration of mental healthcare with primary care; psychoeducational initiatives focused on families and broader social groups; and technology-based interventions.

Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

Correspondence to Professor Stefan Priebe, Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, Newham Centre for Mental Health, London E13 8SP, UK. Tel: +44 20 75404210; fax: +44 20 75402976; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins