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date: 14 August 2018

Children Migrants’ Mental Health

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Global Public Health. Please check back later for the full article.

The psychosocial well-being of migrant children has become an urgent issue facing many Western countries as the number of migrant children in the population is rapidly increasing and health care systems struggle to support them. Often, these children arrive with extensive exposure to trauma and loss. They also face additional stressors in their host country, yet these children don't always access mental health support even when it is available. Barriers to mental health care access include cultural and linguistic barriers, the primacy of resettlement needs, and the stigma attached to mental health illness. There is a need to move away from a focus on trauma and mental health symptoms and instead look at migrant children’s well-being across multiple domains, including activities that may promote or diminish psychological well-being. Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees (TST-R) is an example of an approach that has succeeded in overcoming barriers to mental health care access by adopting a culturally relevant and comprehensive approach to mental health care. A case study illustrates the ways in which this approach is able to overcome barriers by targeting four specific refugee core stressors and providing support across multiple domains to facilitate the meeting of existing mental health needs, as well as prevent further psychological distress.