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Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;18(4):604-23. doi: 10.1177/1359104512462549. Epub 2012 Oct 26.

Mental health problems of young refugees: duration of settlement, risk factors and community-based interventions.

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1University College London, UK.


Little is known about the characteristics of young psychologically-distressed refugees in mental health services, and how they vary according to the duration of settlement. This study of 102 young refugees referred to a community-based mental health service describes past adversities and current circumstances, referral problems, service utilization and treatment outcomes using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The more recently-arrived refugees had significantly higher levels of close exposure to war and violence, were more likely to have suffered separation from immediate family and to have insecure legal status. Those refugees settled longer were significantly more likely to be referred because of conduct problems while there was a trend in recent arrivals to present with internalizing pathology. A comparison of the teachers' and parents' mean SDQ scores of the study's young refugees sample and a national study representative of Great Britain as a whole showed that young refugees have higher scores in total problem and all subscales scores than the British scores. Community-based mental health services for young refugees appeared effective - significant improvement was found in SDQ scores for the sub-group (n = 24) who took up the treatments offered. The implications are discussed for service development and practitioners.


Community-based interventions; mental health; risk factors; young refugees

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