Find two detailed resources on the impact of trauma in the Community Sponsorship context
Reset has asked Shellee Burroughs, Clinical Operations Manager at Action for Child Trauma (ACT) International to put together these resources in order to provide some information about trauma in the Community Sponsorship context. As a Community Sponsorship Group, your role is never to diagnose or treat trauma, but to signpost the refugees you support to different professional services that can help if they express the need. However, you may find it helpful to understand how trauma can impact individuals differently so that your approach to supporting refugees remains empowering yet sensitive to the experiences the resettled family has been through. Information on trauma support services in Scotland can be found further down in this resource.
How to use these resources
The Impact of Trauma
Reset’s resource, ‘The Impact of Trauma’, will provide you as a Community Sponsorship Group with an outline of trauma information and is not designed to be used for diagnostic or treatment purposes. This document focuses on the impact of trauma and displaced persons but it is imperative that Groups keep in mind that not all refugees they support will be traumatised or shows signs of trauma. Remember to respect the privacy and independence of the individuals you support as we all deal with trauma differently.
We’ve divided this resource into four main sections:
- Displaced persons/refugee trauma – this section gives an overview of trauma mental health issues for those who’ve been forced to flee their country and how you, as a Community Sponsorship Group, can support them in their transition to life in the UK.
- Understanding trauma – this looks at how all individuals experience trauma differently. It takes into consideration the various types of trauma and the different ways in which adults and children respond to traumatic experiences.
- Culture and trauma – this section explores how culture affects both how we express and how we process emotions. It also gives an overview of common idioms of distress in Middle Eastern culture.
- Setting realistic expectations – the last section of this resource goes into the idea of gratitude and what we expect from the refugees we support. It will also look at how to speak to the refugees you support about their culture and communicate about their experiences in a sensitive way.
Your wellbeing when working with refugees
When the family you support arrives through Community Sponsorship, you’ll have a lot to do, especially in the first few weeks. In order to give the effective support the family needs, you and your Group members also need to look after your own wellbeing and mental health. This resource aims to outline how to prioritise your self-care to avoid burnout, vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue when working with refugees.
Mental health: migrant health guide
GOV.UK have created a mental health guide for practitioners working with migrant patients, including listing a range of resources for both healthcare professionals and migrants.
The guide focuses on the following:
- Risks to the mental wellbeing of vulnerable migrants.
- How mental health disorders may present differently in people from different cultures.
- The need to have a professional interpreter when working with people facing language barriers.
- How to support migrants to access mental health services.
- The increased risks of mental health disorders developing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Trauma Support in Scotland
Scotland is at the forefront of designing, delivering and adapting existing services to recognise the impact of trauma. You can find more detail on that here, in the National Trauma Training Framework.
Provision of specific trauma services for refugees, and their particular experiences, will depend on whether the services in the area have experience of receiving asylum seekers and refugees. There are specific trauma services which support refugees based in Glasgow, such as Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service and specialist services for survivors of torture, such as Freedom From Torture.
It will be worth contacting your health and social care partnership, when you are planning how you will assist the families you have supported. All Scottish Local Authorities have been involved in the resettlement scheme and may have thoughts about specialist provision for mental health services, ones which are experienced in responding to trauma and working with refugees.
As a sponsor, your role is not to diagnose or respond to the trauma of those you support, but you will be working with families who may have experienced various levels of distress, which they might share with you. Being prepared for this and planning for it is important for your health and those families you are supporting.