An exploration into migrants’ mental healthcare from the perspectives of Central and Eastern European migrants in the UK and professionals in Europe

  • Estefania Penuela O'Brien

Student thesis: Doctor of Clinical Psychology


The overarching aim of the thesis was to enhance understanding of mental healthcare for migrants in Europe, from the perspectives of service users and providers. The thesis is presented as three papers: 1) a systematic review; 2) an empirical study; and 3) a critical appraisal. In Paper 1, a qualitative synthesis of professionals' experiences of and attitudes towards mental healthcare for migrants in Europe is presented. Thematic synthesis of twenty studies identified three themes: 1) the management of multifaceted and complex challenges associated with the migrant status; 2) professionals' emotional responses to working with migrants; and 3) delivering care in the context of cultural difference. Recommendations for professionals and services include increased organisational flexibility; collaboration with voluntary organisations in relation to addressing additional needs and specialist supervision for professionals; reflective practice and networking for professionals; building partnerships with migrant communities; and the adoption of a person-centred approach. Policymakers and commissioners should consider additional funding for services, increased provision of training to professionals, and extending universal access to care to include undocumented and uninsured migrants. Paper 2 is an empirical investigation of Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrants' experiences of mental health services in the UK. Thirteen CEE migrants living in the UK were interviewed. Three themes emerged from thematic analysis of the data: 1) attitudes towards help-seeking; 2) the experience of ethnic in/visibility; and 3) the role of communication in engagement with services. Clinical implications include the need to: provide education to CEE migrants relating to mental health and service availability; train professionals about the difficulties associated with migration and belonging to a minority group; strengthen inter-agency working with voluntary organisations, particularly those specialising in migrant and minority groups; increase collaboration with the CEE community; and adapt clinical practice. Finally, Paper 3 is a critical appraisal of the research process, including the researcher's personal reflections. This paper provides further detail regarding key decisions, the strengths and limitations of the project, and the wider clinical and research implications.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMing Wan (Supervisor), Katherine Berry (Supervisor) & Dawn Edge (Supervisor)


  • Mental Health Services
  • Migrants
  • Immigrants
  • Health Professionals

Cite this