Supporting Refugees: The Crucial Role of Flourish in Mental Health

Three Rivers District Council is seeking to increase understanding of the mental health challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Hertfordshire, as well as the support services available in our district.

One local charity at the forefront of mental health support is Herts Mind Network, with a dedicated project called Flourish. Flourish offers practical and emotional support for refugees and asylum seekers aged 16 and over across the county.

Paul Warwick, Services Manager for Complex Needs & Community at Herts Mind Network, explained: "We provide up to 10 sessions to support individuals with all mental health difficulties and investigate what might be contributing towards their mental health practically."

The charity’s approach is personalised, developing a support package tailored to each client’s needs. It also assists with housing, benefits, asylum claims, signposting, and referrals to Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Founcation (HPFT).

The case studies shared in this piece provide some insight to the challenges and experiences of refugee’s or asylum seekers living in the local area.

Case study 1: HM

HM, a 30-year-old male from Afghanistan, arrived in the UK through the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP). The UK Government introduced a scheme to assist Afghan citizens who played significant roles working for or with them in Afghanistan. This program provided these individuals and their immediate families with the opportunity to relocate to the UK, subject to approval by the Ministry of Defence and Home Office.

He had worked as an interpreter for the English military but was dismissed under unclear circumstances, which significantly affected his mental health. When Flourish first encountered HM, his living conditions were dire; he was sleeping on a bare mattress in a neglected room at YMCA. Despite efforts from YMCA staff, HM's mental health issues remained unresolved.

Upon referral to Flourish, investigation uncovered a prior head injury suffered by HM. Equipped with this vital knowledge Flourish facilitated several appointments with his GP and secured a referral for a neurologist and an MRA scan. HM was diagnosed with deep psychosis and prescribed Risperidone, receiving further referrals for blood tests and an ECG. Following Flourish's intervention, HM's situation began to improve compounded by the fact he also started receiving support from Adult Social Care. The support workers from YMCA acknowledged that HM received the support he needed only after Flourish got involved.

Case study 2: FA

FA, another beneficiary of the Flourish project, arrived in the UK in 2021, leaving behind a life of trauma in Afghanistan. He had leave-to-remain status but struggled immensely with his mental health, notably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His traumatic experiences include exposure to extreme violence, such as witnessing death through hangings and bombings, and enduring physical and psychological domestic abuse.

FA's mental health issues intensified after fleeing Afghanistan without his wife, leading to severe stress, guilt, and self-harm tendencies. Flourish has been working with FA for the past three months, holding 15 meetings to address his mental health condition. FA's progress includes working part-time, attending university in London, and recently passing his driving test. Though he continues to struggle with mental health, Flourish's consistent support has helped him navigate these challenges and maintain his resilience.

The importance of Flourish's work

The service provided by Flourish can be a lifeline for those fleeing to the UK. Herts Mind Network, as an organisation, believes that being open-minded and understanding the realities faced by refugees is essential. Many refugees have fled extreme situations such as torture, persecution, and war, leading to conditions like PTSD, depression, and severe anxiety.

The service is sensitive to cultural backgrounds, offering client-led, tailored support, including options for male or female workers, using trusted translators, and providing multilingual referral forms. Flourish also organises events for young refugees and asylum seekers, promoting community integration and support.

Flourish ensures every individual in Hertfordshire has a voice, advocating for their right to an equal quality of life. Their work is indispensable in addressing the mental health needs of refugees and asylum seekers, providing them with the necessary support to rebuild their lives and achieve stability and well-being.

Accessing Flourish's support

Flourish's support can be accessed through their website, by calling their main office line at 0203 727 3600, or by sending a referral form to You can also visit their website here.