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28.01.2020 | Review Article | Ausgabe 3/2020

Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -) 3/2020

Psychological morbidity among forcibly displaced children—a literature review

Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -) > Ausgabe 3/2020
Christian Rey Cayabyab, Peter O’Reilly, Anne-Marie Murphy, Clodagh O’Gorman
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In 2018, nearly 75 million people were displaced from their place of origin of which 20.4 million are considered as refugees. Children constitute over half of this population. A review of the currently available literature regarding the psychological impact of forced displacement on children was performed with the concept examined under three stages of flight: pre-migration, intra-migration and post-migration. The resilience of children despite adversities is explored. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are the most commonly studied effects of forced migration on children. Rates range from 20 to 52.7%, 23 to 44.1% and 38.3 to 69% respectively. PTSD is associated with pre-migration disturbances such as witnessing death or torture of relatives, assaults and separation from family. Intra-migration difficulties relate to the hazardous journey, length of detention, type of facility and failed asylum application. Post-migration difficulties highlighted are insecure asylum status, housing worries, multiple relocations and poor acculturation technique and are more related to depression and anxiety. Despite these challenges and the tremendous horror witnessed, the majority of children report good functionality in their host countries in the long-term. The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the factors contributing to the manifestation of mental health issues in child refugees as well as to examine mechanisms which enhance successful resettling in the host society. Health and social care providers must understand the complex interplay between the damaging effects of displacement, and the innate protective factors that persecuted children possess. Management should involve a holistic approach that considers children, families and native communities.

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