Every year thousands of children across the world flee their home country in search of sanctuary. The trauma they have suffered in their home countries is often hard to imagine. A growing number of these children arrive unaccompanied without the support of a family. These children have to cope with the asylum process and other problems sanctuary seekers face upon arrival as well as dealing with the memories of what they experienced before seeking asylum. This is what is suggested to be the cause of these children being at high risk of psychological disorders.
This study aims to systematically review the appropriate literature to compare whether UASRMs are at a higher risk for mental health disorders than AASRMS or non refugee children. The findings will then be applied to clinical practice by recommending how the health service should deal with these children. Areas of further research will also be suggested.
A research question was decided upon after background reading. It was then developed using PICO and the keywords involved were defined. Journal articles and relevant databases were then searched resulting in 41 relevant matches. The abstracts of these studies were read and an inclusion/exclusion criteria was applied to narrow down the search.
After application of the inclusion/exclusion criteria, 4 studies were left. The full text of these was then read to further determine their suitability. All of these studies were considered appropriate and were critically appraised using a CASP checklist.
All the studies used showed that accompanied and unaccompanied asylum seeking children were at a high risk of psychological disorders and had experienced various traumas in their home countries. The results of the study that also included non refugee children as a sample group highlighted that asylum seeking children experienced more mental health problems than native children. All the studies also highlighted how unaccompanied asylum seeking children were at a higher risk than the children who arrived with families.
Awareness needs to be raised amongst health professionals, teachers, social workers (and anyone else who works with this highly vulnerable group) on the high susceptibility they have to psychological disorders. This means that the appropriate action and support can be put in place.