11th September 2016
How to help refugee children get through the trauma of what’s happened to them
Out of the 60m people who have been evicted from their homes due to persecution and conflicts worldwide, at least half are children. These young refugees have complex mental health needs, predominantly emotional difficulties such as post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety which are compounded by physical ill health, developmental delays, social exclusion and lack of education.Refugee children are very vulnerable to extreme poverty, exploitation, abuse, neglect and parental mental illness. They can also struggle to adjust to their host country or environment. These risks are even morepronounced for unaccompanied minors and former child soldiers.In recent years, there has been growing interest in understanding how different factors in a child’s environment can protect their well-being by building resilience to process their distress and cope with further stress. Interventions to improve children’s psychological well-being and social functioning have been broadened from just helping the child deal with their traumatic experiences to also strengthening support for their family, school and communities.