Afghans mental health in UK hotels worsened by family separation, UK home office policies and a broken NHS

FOrmir, Afghan Special Forces soldier, Mikes Mirza, is a shadow of herself.

She hits her head against the wall and cries nonstop and loses her appetite. She shares a room with her sisters at the Radisson Blu Hotel in West London – which she became home to just over a month ago.

Orphaned at a young age, she confesses to a charity and an Afghan health worker who visits her at the hotel that she wants to end her life. Since the Taliban overran Kabul in late August, she fears her work with the military will put her younger brother’s life at risk.

Karim Shirin, director of the Afghan Society in London, recalled meeting her: “Mirza withdrew and spoke very little.”

Mr. Sherin says independent Depression, anxiety, and poor mental health are prevalent among most newcomers. More than 8000 Afghani citizens she was They were evacuated to the UK in August under the Afghan Resettlement and Assistance Policy (ARAP).

“People have fled their country in a horrific way,” says Mr. Sherine.

They are upset about the situation. Most of those who arrived were working with the army, which collapsed. They’ve lost their jobs, their livelihood – everything they’ve built in the last 20 years is haunting them.”

Mr Shereen says Ms Mirza has been referred to the West London Grand Prix Association for advice, which has yet to begin.

But Dr Waheed Arian, an NHS emergency physician, says the trauma most Afghan refugees escape is very complex. He stresses that counseling alone is not enough.

Scenes of stampede at the airport and families caught in the crossfire after the Taliban toppled the Afghan government brought back memories of the horrors he lived through at the age of 15. Dr. Aryan says that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) independent.



I was looking at a red bus but I saw a tank

Vahid Aryan, an NHS A&E doctor who fled Afghanistan aged 15

“I was looking at a red bus but I saw a tank,” he says. It took Dr. Arian nearly 10 years to diagnose his condition and treat it accordingly. This was only possible as a result of the psychological evaluation he undertook as part of his professional training.

The core issues are complex; Dr. Aryan explains that they are fleeing persecution, bombs, hunger, malnutrition and refugee camps – all of which are constant threats to their very survival. This leaves them in a constant fight-or-flight response, he adds.

Forty-one years of war have left mental scars for millions of Afghans. A 2018 European Union survey found that 85 percent of the population had experienced or experienced at least one traumatic event, with an average of four.

As part of the UK’s Warm Welcome, the Department of Health and Social Care has promised £3m so the new arrivals will get the healthcare they need. The money will cover mental health support, infectious disease screening, maternity care and getting prescriptions.

After young Afghans, including special forcesindependent Speaking to, they say they have not received any mental health support yet. Mr. Sherine says some refugees are still waiting for their NHS numbers, while few have received them.

Waheed Aryan, an NHS A&E doctor who arrived in the UK aged 15 from Afghanistan, took a decade to diagnose and treat PTSD.

(Dr. Wahid Arian)

Regardless of the millions pumped into the system, Dr. Ariane says a comprehensive evaluation by a clinical psychologist in a multidisciplinary setting through a bio-psychosocial lens, which looks at illness and disease from a broader perspective, is essential.

This means, he explains, determining if they have any physical, psychological and mental illness, if they feel safe. If they don’t feel safe, how intense are their memories and nightmares? Accordingly, Dr. Aryan says that proper treatment should be given.

Dr. Arian says poor mental health, left undiagnosed or treated, will inhibit their social integration, affect language learning and prevent them from achieving their full potential.

Dr Ariane describes the mental health system run by the NHS as “disruptive”. The challenges are multiple and intertwined: lack of funding, lack of proper planning, and misallocation of resources, to name a few.

“Mental health is not considered high on the list of priorities and is not given the same level of medical attention as other conditions that need it,” he says.

At A&E, Dr. Aryan has for years treated suicides of newly arrived Afghans, as well as British Afghans who were expelled in the UK, for years. NHS Digital data shows that in the year to March, ‘feeling depressed’ was the main patient complaint in 114,000 attendees at NHS emergency departments – an average of 312 per day.

It is difficult to obtain accurate data on the scale of the mental health crisis affecting Afghan society, including suicide numbers.

However, he says, the pandemic has not only highlighted the need for better mental health services, but has exposed it as an area with severe under-resources and a shortage of highly qualified personnel.

He set up Arian Wellbeing two years ago to address this gap and is determined to improve people’s mental wellbeing using holistic and scientific methods. If that works, Dr Arrian hopes to replicate the model across the NHS.

‘It is not uncommon for Afghan men to cry in front of people’

After fleeing war and persecution, the refugees face another battle to reunite with their loved ones.

During the evacuation last month, Afghan Special Forces soldier Usman Khan arrived with his six-month-old son at Heathrow Airport. His wife and five-year-old daughter were transferred to Germany. His parents are in Southampton. His appeals to the Ministry of Interior have not yet been answered.

With pale and faint eyes, he nurses his infant around the clock. Lack of sleep, stress and dizziness affect his mental health.

“When I was in quarantine at Heathrow, they didn’t give me baby formula,” he says. independent In the lobby of the Hilton Metropole West London.

Adults were given regular milk with sugar. He got a sore throat and earache, and was crying for 24 hours,” Khan says. His son has better provisions in the new hotel.

Eager to be reunited with his wife and parents, he says, “The worst thing most people face is prolonged separation from their loved ones.”

Khan believes the mental health crisis is being exacerbated by other factors: a lack of information, housing, money, language courses, decent food, and browsing Kafka’s Home Office procedures.



The worst thing most people face is prolonged separation from their loved ones

Usman Khan, Afghan father of a 7-month-old baby

For many, he says, depression is hidden and some don’t even realize they are depressed. He remembers how a father broke down when he told a volunteer that his children didn’t eat hotel food and he didn’t have the money to buy them anything from outside.

“I saw several faces like this. It is not uncommon for Afghan men to cry in front of people,” Khan says, adding, “Imagine the problem.

“If you don’t have money, it is boring here. It is like living in a prison.”

Young Afghans: Hopes and Fears

The hotel lobby is a cacophony of children’s laughter and cries. Volunteers in bright green flak jackets step in and out of supplies. A security guard tells us independent On condition of anonymity, the new arrivals will stay for three months.

For three young Afghans in traditional jeans, the cloudy skies and stormy weather outside are no different from the apprehension they feel about their future here.

They say not in work or education independent They are concerned about the recognition of their professional qualifications from their home country (Afghanistan) in the UK. They try to fill their time by using the hotel gym. Others watch Bollywood movies.

Dr. Vahid Aryan arrived in the UK as a refugee in 1999. He worked as a kitchen porter and salesman to pay for his education while also supporting his family in Afghanistan.

(Dr. Wahid Arian)

“We only need one support from the Ministry of Interior, so we can get a home quickly, and go on with our lives,” says Arman Awad, 17, who is eager to start his university studies.

A spokesperson for the National Housing Federation says: “Our members work alongside local authorities to provide homes for Afghan refugees who are settling in England.”

“It will take some time to resettle people, but local authorities and housing associations are working as quickly as possible.”

Mr. Shirin says many young people have good jobs and have not thought about leaving Afghanistan. Recently evacuees independent I spoke to them angry about a policy preventing them from working while their claim was being processed.

After arriving in the UK in 1999 with no money, no education and big dreams, Dr. Aryan knows all too well the obstacles to earning an income. He worked as a porter in the kitchen and a salesman to pay for his education while also supporting his family in Afghanistan.

“I wouldn’t be an NHS doctor now without working,” says Dr Arrian, calling on the government to reverse its current policy.

“They bring a lot of talent and resilience. It will help our community and economy if we support them.”

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