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Mental Health Expert Reports

Asylum & Human Rights

Mental Health Expert Reports

We are usually instructed to work on cases which include elements of mental health disorder, possible mental disorder, risk of relapse, issues of mental health risk and risk of self harm or suicide.

In so many cases of this nature, there is history of profound trauma.  We have the necessary expertise to provide detailed assessments of past trauma, the effect of trauma on the present and the potential effects in the future.  We are able to instruct experts who have experience of considering the likelihood of adverse effects on an asylum seeker’s mental health.  Such knowledge is important when considering such cases as is a comparative assessment of prognosis with or without a return to the country of origin.

Although the issue of human rights is a matter for the tribunal or court to decide, expert psychiatrists and psychologists may be called upon to consider certain characteristics which may enable the tribunal or court to make its decision.

Psychological assessments and reports will detail any PTSD related to mental or physical abuse and torture; provide a diagnosis and future treatment needs and prognosis; and detail the impact of deportation on the asylum seeker. Any time spent in a detention centre is also considered, and short and long term effects of detention, such as any impact on mental health, are detailed in any report.

If there are symptoms to substantiate mistreatment or torture to support an application for asylum, then the expert will state this in the report.

The report will document any details of why the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or due to their membership of a particular social group. Validated details of this nature can be put forward as acceptable reasons for a waiver to exclusion, deportation and removal.

If the expert is able to report a well-founded fear this can be a valid reason to request that the Home Office grant a waiver for exclusion, deportation and removal, and the asylum seeker may be granted discretionary leave outside of the European Union (EU) rules to remain within the UK.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prohibits torture and the extradition of a person to a foreign state if they are likely to be subjected to torture and this is detailed in Article (3) which is used by individuals to apply for asylum in the UK.

The situation for asylum seekers is further complicated in the fact that their torture experiences may have affected their cognitive processing and memory. Discrepancies in their statements and repeat Home Office interviews often lead to the refusal their case on the basis that their torture claims and narrative are fabricated, rather than as a result of cognitive difficulties. Incoherent accounts of events are regarded as a false story in order to gain entry to the UK.

A common assumption is that an experience concerning severe violence or torture will be so important that it will be remembered with clarity in the long term. This is an understandable view but one that’s challenged by the scientific evidence.

Claimants’ inconsistent accounts of their experiences may also be related to the different triggering of traumatic memories depending on the situation. We do not know enough about the impact of this on the variability of presentation in the high-emotion contexts of the court room, the official interview and clinical assessment.

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