North-east researchers to explore Brexit’s mental health impact

A newly funded research project at Robert Gordon University (RGU) will examine the impact that Brexit is having on the mental health and wellbeing of EU citizens across the country.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from RGU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and the School of Applied Social Studies has received support from the university’s research pump priming fund to study how this seismic change in British politics is shaping the lives of the communities most affected.

The study will be undertaken in collaboration with Feniks – an Edinburgh-based charity whose aim is to improve the wellbeing of the Central Eastern European community in Scotland’s capital and across the country.

It comes at a time when recent figures showed the number of EU nationals leaving jobs at public bodies, such as hospital trusts, has risen by an estimated 15% between 2016 and 2017.

Piotr Teodorowski, an early career researcher at RGU, said: “There are multiple reasons to expect that Brexit is affecting the mental health of EU citizens in Scotland, but as yet there has been no detailed exploration of how its impact is being felt, and with what implications.”

Professor Catriona Kennedy, primary investigator on the project, added: “Not only is there great uncertainty about the current political situation, but we know that hate crime spiked in the UK during and after the vote to leave the European Union.

“Our study will aim to take this all into account, to provide a narrative describing how Brexit is changing people’s lives, and hopefully to scope what can be done to support the most vulnerable EU citizens.”

Piotr and Professor Kennedy are joined on the research team by Dr Ruth Woods, a psychology lecturer at RGU’s School of Applied Social Studies, and Magda Czarnecka, from Feniks.

Magda Czarnecka, a project development manager at the charity, said: “The result of the Brexit referendum has brought a high level of uncertainty to the lives of the EU27 nationals in the UK. Since then we have noted an increase in anxieties and depression among our clients.

“I believe this research will give a thorough overview of the impact of Brexit on mental health. We hope to use the results to raise awareness on how the public and the third sector can improve their services for the EU nationals' in the coming months and years.”

The five-month-long study will begin in January 2019.

Piotr Teodorowski

Piotr Teodorowski

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