Standard 9 of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services, addresses the Mental Health and Psychological Well-being of Children and Young People.
The experiences of being a refugee and living in exile will be challenging for children and young people. Some children may struggle to preserve a sense of social and psychological stability at a time when they also need to acquire a new language and adapt to a new culture around them.
However, most refugee children are extremely resilient and resourceful despite the variety of hardships that they encounter. Going to school, making friends and feeling a sense of belonging all support positive coping and emotional well-being. The structure and routines of the school day provide stability and normality.
Health of Refugee Children - Guidelines for Paediatricians (.PDF)published by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health states that there are many important factors to consider in relation to the mental well-being of refugee children, including that children may be affected by their parents psychological state. Refugee parents pre-occupied with the traumas they have suffered and many difficulties they face may not be as emotionally available to their children as they might wish. The guidance also comments on the impact of racism worsening mental health, and that different cultural attitudes may mean that a family or child may not want to seek help.
Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) promote the mental health and psychological well-being of children and young people, and provide high quality, multidisciplinary mental health services to all children and young people with mental health problems and disorders to ensure effective assessment, treatment and support, for them and their families.
CAMHS teams often consist of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, family therapists and psychotherapists. They may also have occupational therapists and social workers. Many CAMHS teams also offer outreach support and have designated school-based workers and sometimes staff within the GP surgeries as well. Some mental health trusts will have designated lead practitioners or teams who have expertise in young refugee mental health. CAMHS usually accept referrals from GPs, Social Services, Schools, Community Organisations and families or young people themselves. CAMHS can offer individual, family or group support or interventions.
The key mental health issues for refugees area of this website provides further guidance on the mental health needs of children and young people.
The Integration of Refugee Children: Good Practice in Educational Settings area of this website provides guidance on promoting emotional well-being in:
The DfES produced guidance on Promoting children's mental health within early years and school settings. (2001)
The NALDIC ITT SEAL website provides further background information and guidance on ways that children’s resilience can be supported.
The South East Migrant Health Network is not responsible for the content of external sites.