Psychological Wellbeing of Polish Migrants: What is the Role of the NHS?

Prof Doc Thesis

Chojnacki, S. 2020. Psychological Wellbeing of Polish Migrants: What is the Role of the NHS? Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsChojnacki, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Aim: Polish migrants are currently the largest immigrant population in the UK. This study aimed to explore what the NHS is currently doing for this population and what needs to change for the services to be more accessible to Polish migrants.
Method: Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIRs) were sent to all 56 Mental Health Trusts to investigate whether the NHS is serving Polish migrants by monitoring access to services. An online survey of Polish migrants was used to address the research question “What might need to change in order to make mental health services accessible/used by Polish migrants in the UK?”. The survey participants were recruited online through Facebook groups and online Polish news media. Data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics.
Results: Forty six Trusts responded to the FOIRs. The results indicate that very few Trusts collect information on access to services by Polish migrants. No Trust reported having developed a race equality strategy that attempts to address the needs of Polish service users specifically. Six hundred and five Polish people completed the online survey. The majority of participants (76.5%) identified as female and the average age was 35. The results indicate that a high proportion of Polish migrants are likely to experience mental health difficulties. Identified causal factors included work stress, isolation and loneliness, family stress, relationship problems and migration. The current study found that out of the 369 participants who reported mental health problems 40.9% sought support for their difficulties through the NHS. Participants who sought help had, on average, lived longer in the UK (p = 0.001). Barriers to accessing help included language difficulties, lack of time, lack of belief in services and experiences of fear and shame. Self-help strategies and family support were listed as protective factors.
Recommendations: In line with developing culturally competent services the NHS should adopt a practical approach to engaging this community and focus on enhancing the relationship between Polish migrants and the GP, adopt community approaches and pay attention to the identified causal beliefs of distress which centre around psycho-social factors such as stressful work conditions and isolation.

KeywordsPolish; migrants; NHS; mental health services
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online01 Oct 2020
Publication process dates
SubmittedJun 2020
Deposited01 Oct 2020
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