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Nurse researchers will investigate mental health impact of Brexit

Study will examine effects of ‘high level of uncertainty’ among EU nationals in Scotland

Study will examine effects of ‘high level of uncertainty’ among EU nationals in Scotland


Picture: Alamy

Nurse researchers are preparing to investigate Brexit’s impact on the mental health and well-being of people living in Scotland who come from other EU countries. 

Academics from Robert Gordon University’s school of nursing and midwifery in Aberdeen, and its school of applied social studies, will ‘provide a narrative describing how Brexit is changing people’s lives’.

Increase in hate crime

Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland professor of nursing and midwifery, Catriona Kennedy, is the primary investigator on the five-month project, which starts this month.

She said: ‘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.’

Professor Kennedy said she hoped the project would look at how to support the most vulnerable EU nationals.

Charity input

The views of focus groups will form part of the study and will be run in collaboration with Feniks, an Edinburgh-based charity that aims to improve the well-being of Scotland’s central Eastern European community.

The university said the study is being undertaken at a time when the number of EU nationals leaving jobs at public bodies, including hospital trusts, rose by an estimated 15% in the UK between 2016 and 2017, according to research by pro-Europe campaign group Best for Britain. 

Feniks project development manager Magda Czarnecka said: ‘The result of the Brexit referendum has brought a high level of uncertainty to the lives of EU nationals in the UK.

‘Since then we have noted an increase in anxieties and depression among our clients.’

RCN warning

In November last year the RCN warned that Brexit posed an ‘immediate risk’ to safe patient care. RCN council chair Maria Trewern said the UK was ‘stumbling towards Brexit’ and ‘patients must not be left high and dry without the medicines and the nurses they need’.


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