Children at Risk: A Review of the Mental Health of Unaccompanied Refugee Minors

Laurel Peacock

Abstract


War and conflict force many children to flee their homes without parents or guardians; these children are referred to as unaccompanied refugee minors. Such children are particularly vulnerable to traumatic experiences. The stresses of conflict, migration and assimilation often lead to varied mental health concerns and symptoms of trauma among refugee children. This review examines the following aspects of their mental health: (a) vulnerabilities and risk factors, (b) psychopathology, (c) resilience, and (d) effective treatments for this population. Stressful life events are risk factors affecting the psychological health of the unaccompanied refugee children. These vulnerabilities contribute to the increased prevalence of anxiety, depressive, and posttraumatic symptoms in this population. The symptoms vary based on factors such as environment, time since arrival, and resiliency. Effective treatments specific to this population remain few. Further research into the mental health of unaccompanied refugee children is necessary if society is to assist this population overcome the effects of the trauma.

Keywords


unaccompanied refugee minors; children; mental health; resiliency; risk factors

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ISSN: 2325-0917