Central and Eastern European migrants’ experiences of mental health services in the UK: A qualitative study post-Brexit

Estefanía Peñuela-O′brien, Ming Wai Wan, Katherine Berry, Dawn Edge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrants are a large minority group in the UK who are vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems. However, due to their shared ‘whiteness’ with the majority population, health service disparities may be overlooked. This is the first study exploring CEE-born people’s experiences of mental health services post-Brexit.

Thirteen CEE migrants who had received mental health services in the UK were interviewed and data was thematically analysed.

Barriers and facilitators to engagement reflected: 1) attitudes towards help-seeking; 2) cultural in/visibility; and 3) professional-service user communication. Some barriers were unique to the CEE community and not shared by other minority groups, such as the ‘invisibility’ of ethnic identity and this framed the way participants navigated interactions with services.

Cultural differences and mental health stigma were reported to influence understanding of mental health, attitudes to help-seeking, and experiences of services. Flexible ethnic identity and majority group “passing” could conceal inequalities in healthcare.

Practice implications
The need for culturally informed approaches, professional upskilling, strengthened inter-agency working, and collaboration with CEE communities. The need to build on pre-existing strengths, for self-directed and self-care activities, for appropriate pacing and confidentiality discussions, and the use of web-based resources.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107562
JournalPatient education and counseling
Early online date4 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Nov 2022


  • Migrants
  • Mental health
  • Mental health services
  • Central and Eastern European
  • United Kingdom
  • Cultural
  • Stigma


Dive into the research topics of 'Central and Eastern European migrants’ experiences of mental health services in the UK: A qualitative study post-Brexit'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this