The mental health needs of refugee children: A review of literature and implications for nurse practitioners

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To review the current literature regarding the mental health needs of refugee children resettled in the United States and provide recommendations for clinicians working with refugee children and their families.

Data sources:

An extensive review of journal articles published from research conducted in first-world countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, and Canada.


Review of the current literature suggests that while some refugee children will suffer poor mental health outcomes, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety, others may not. Several groups of researchers concluded that refugee children are actually a high functioning group. Many coping and protective factors as well as risk factors for poor outcomes have been identified by the research.

Implications for practice:

Because many refugee children will experience adverse psychosocial outcomes during the resettlement period, it is essential that the mental health screenings be performed during each primary care visit. Nurse practitioners have the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of refugee children because they play a pivotal role in the assessment, screening, and referral of children for mental health services.

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