The number of mental health cases handled by British consuls has increased by 50 per cent in the past five years, consuls learned at a Consular Corps meeting to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
Social worker Georgina Hollingsworth, who advises FCO consular staff, said all consuls should receive training to help them identify and manage cases of mental illness – whether it is anxiety or depression or serious cases of psychosis.
She added it was vital for consuls to engage with charities that can assist them in mental health cases (see infobox below).
Awareness campaigns were helpful in prevention and in encouraging at-risk travellers to make adequate preparations before their departure. The FCO’s ‘Mind How You Go’ campaign reminds travellers at risk of mental illness to take out adequate insurance, ensure they have sufficient medication and educate themselves on local support services.
Hollingsworth added that it was important to support consuls who have been affected by difficult or traumatic cases.
Consuls working in the UK reported an anecdotal rise in anxiety and depression in their migrant communities. They also pointed to deteriorating mental health of those indefinitely detained in immigration removal centres.
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