Non-clinicians' judgments about asylum seekers' mental health: how do legal representatives of asylum seekers decide when to request medico-legal reports?
This paper describes a study of how legal representatives make decisions about their asylum seeking clients' mental health.
Wilson-Shaw, L., Pistrang, N. & Herlihy, J. (2012). Non-clinicians’ judgments about asylum seekers’ mental health: How do legal representatives of asylum seekers decide when to request medico-legal reports? European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 3
In the asylum process, non-clinicians are often required to make decisions about whether clients are 'vulnerable' or in need of specialist attention. Funds for specialist assistance with these decisions are scarce. In order to explore how these decisions are made, we interviewed a sample of immigration lawyers about their decisions to refer a client for a medico-legal report. Whilst the lawyers we spoke to were very well-trained and experienced, there were nonetheless aspects of psychological distress that they were less likely to identify, and they drew on their own emotional responses to clients to decide who was in need. These findings have serious implications for a system in which officials make quasi-clinical mental health (or 'vulnerability') assessments without a background of mental health training.Go to Link Download PDF