The mental health service needs and experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK: a literature review
evidence and practice    

The mental health service needs and experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK: a literature review

Tal Davies Hayon Staff nurse, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, London, England
Jennifer Oates Lecturer, Mental health nursing, King's College London, London, England

In 2017 more than 2,000 unaccompanied children sought asylum in the UK. This article summarises the policy and research literature on the mental health needs and experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in the UK, with the aim of suggesting how to enhance practice and improve outcomes for this vulnerable group. UASC have significant mental health needs with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety; the asylum process greatly affects their well-being.

Higher levels of distress in older adolescents who are seeking asylum suggests that lower levels of social support have detrimental outcomes for their mental health. Barriers to service use include mistrust, stigma and service providers’ lack of cultural awareness which affect UASC’s help-seeking behaviours and identification of their needs. This indicates that mental health services should be available in the spaces commonly used by UASC, such as schools and community centres, to provide psychoeducation, training to other agencies and to inform culturally sensitive interventions.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2019.e1387

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

jennifer.oates@kcl.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Davies Hayon T, Oates J (2019) The mental health service needs and experiences of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK: a literature review. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2019.e1387

Published online: 24 September 2019