Mental Health & Migrant Justice

NSUN’s work on mental health and migrant justice is focussed on supporting grassroots groups that work across these areas. User-led groups are doing the vital work of helping people with lived experience of the immigration system to navigate life in the UK. Crucially, they address how the process of migration both causes distress and exacerbates existing mental ill-health. 

NSUN has started ongoing conversations with user-led groups across the country who are working on these issues, to think about how we can be of most use to them. So far, we have heard about a range of factors keeping these groups precarious. These factors can be divided into two main groups, although they are very closely related:

Capacity problems

  • Groups rarely have the time, connections or volunteers/employees to do all of the work that they’d like to be able to do.

Funding problems

  • Groups often struggle in their relationships with charity funders. Funding application processes are confusing and time-consuming, and groups rarely have the opportunity to communicate directly with funders.

The funding, from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, that makes this strand of NSUN’s work possible was granted on the basis that it would be used to support campaigning organisations working at the intersection of mental health and migration policy. What has become clear through our conversations with grassroots groups, however, is that in order for groups to be able to successfully campaign and influence policy, the conditions in which they operate must change. 

NSUN’s Mental Health and Migrant Justice Networking Space

In September 2023, NSUN held its first Mental Health and Migrant Justice Networking Space. The idea behind this space is to begin to address some of the capacity problems that grassroots groups working on mental health and migrant justice face. 

As many groups’ limited time and resources are taken up meeting the immediate needs of their communities, this monthly, online space is designed to provide an opportunity for them to build mutually supportive relationships with similar organisations that they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to connect with. We hope that this will also be a space for groups to share challenges and knowledge, allowing them to co-develop influencing strategies. We also hope that it will allow NSUN to identify the specific support needs of interested groups as they develop. 

What’s next?

Supported by NSUN, attendees of our Mental Health and Migrant Justice Networking Space have drafted an open letter to funders, to help them understand the conditions that grassroots groups working across these areas need in order to be able to support their communities. The group is looking forward to starting conversations with funders.

Over the next year, we will continue to build our relationships with grassroots groups working at the intersection of mental health and migrant justice, and work with them to address both capacity and funding-related challenges. We have also joined the Disability and Migration Network as a member.

This work is led by NSUN’s Rights and Migration Policy Officer, Kieran Lewis. If you are interested in this programme of work, for example, if you are part of a user-led group that might be interested in joining the networking space, or a funder hoping to start a conversation around improving practices, you can get in touch with him at

User-led groups working on mental health and migrant justice:

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