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Refugee children are vulnerable to poor mental health, study claims

Research from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has claimed that refugee and migrant children are particularly vulnerable to poor mental health, as a result of experiences both before and during migration.
Titled, “Delivering the Healthy Child Programme for young refugee and migrant children”, the report highlighted a number of specific health issues affecting refugee and migrant families which are likely to have implications for the health and development of children in their early years.
“These will need to be taken into account by local authorities as they plan and develop their Healthy Child Programme 0-5, taking into account the specific needs of their local population,” the report said.
As well as speaking to families, the NCB reviewed the joint strategic needs assessments (JSNAs) and other information available for 16 local authority areas with significant proportions of residents born outside the UK to generate the report.
Poor mental health was by far the most dominant issue the report discovered, with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children especially vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder, low-level and severe depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, self-harm and loneliness.
“Therefore, promoting good mental health among young refugee and migrant children, and also identifying where a parent or carer’s mental health is having an impact on the child’s health and development, will be an important consideration when local authorities are designing and developing their health visiting and other public health services,” the report continued.
Speaking to Nursery World, Zoe Renton, head of policy at NCB, said of refugee and migrant children that “we do know from qualitative research that there are higher rates of mental health problems and that is a key health concern”.