By Deborah Brauser Image via chatiyanon
Adding to previous research showing a link between toxic stress at a young age and lasting impairment, including depression and anxiety, a new study suggests a significant association between separation of families at the US border and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In a study released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General’s Office, investigators interviewed approximately 100 mental healthcare workers who had regular interactions with children in 45 Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR’s) custody facilities from August to September 2018.
Results showed that children separated from their families exhibited more fear, feelings of abandonment, and symptoms of PTSD compared with unseparated children.
The HHS study was published online September 4.
These findings, coincidently, were released a day after the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and several other child-focused organizations put out a joint statement “strongly urging” California’s federal court to resist the Trump Administration’s Final Rule, which is aimed at removing the maximum length of time a migrant child can be held in federal custody.
“More than 20 organizations oppose the Trump Administration’s new regulations that overturn protections guaranteed to immigrant children under the  Flores Settlement Agreement,” the APA said in a press release.
David L. Dubrow, partner at Arent Fox LLP and lead attorney on an amicus brief filed in the Central District of California in the Jenny Lisette Flores, et al v. William Barr, et al case, noted in the same release that the Final Rule “deviates radically from the Flores Settlement” and directly causes harm to these children.
“These changes weaken protections for migrant children, resulting in more children being detained for greater periods of time under materially worse conditions,” he said.
“We’re Seen as the Enemy”
As reported by Medscape Medical News last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a long list of studies assessing toxic stress and children.
In addition, a study published last year in Scientific Reports suggested that traumatic stress experienced by young children is visible on brain scans years later.
“That is a very striking study” because of the real evidence of brain changes in these children, Nathalie Bernabe Quion, MD, pediatrician at Children’s National Health System in Washington DC, told Medscape Medical News at the time.
In the current report, investigators interviewed mental health clinicians who had regular interactions with detained children but who did not address the quality of their care. During August and September 2018, there were almost 9000 children (71% boys) held in the visited facilities. Of these, 85% were aged 13 to 17 years; 13% were aged 6 to 12 years; and 2% were aged 0 to 5 years.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you or a Veteran you know is suffering from PTSD, Anxiety, Loneliness or Depression, you are not alone.
The – Minds At War – Crisis Support Helpline Number is open 24/7 and a First Responder is on call at all times.
- 0800 031 4368
You can also ring this same number during normal hours and seek advice, support and guidance.