Children and young people in immigration detention

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;25(4):285-92. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283548676.


Purpose of review: This article reviews evidence about the impact of immigration detention and other restrictive immigration policies on the mental health of children, young people and the adults who care for them. We review the implications of this for clinicians attempting to assess or work with incarcerated child and adult refugees and asylum seekers.

Recent findings: There are increasing numbers of adults and children seeking asylum across the globe and many nations use incarceration and other harsh and interceptive immigration practices. There is mounting evidence of the psychological harm associated with detention of already vulnerable adults and children. Australia is used as a case study.

Summary: Clinicians are required to consider the intersection of mental health assessment and treatment with human rights violations, and the impact of restrictive immigration policies, not only on asylum seekers and refugees but also on clinicians, clinical practice and professional ethics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology*
  • Female
  • Human Rights Abuses / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Mental Health*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Young Adult