Systematic Review and Meta-analysis: The Prevalence of Mental Illness in Child and Adolescent Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry - Journal Article

Over half of the world's refugee population are under the age of 18 years. This systematic review aims to summarize the current body of evidence for the prevalence of mental illness in child and adolescent refugee populations.|Eight electronic databases, gray literature, and Google Scholar were searched for articles from 1 January 2003 to 5 February 2018. Strict inclusion criteria regarding the diagnosis of mental illness were imposed. Study quality was assessed using a template according to study design, and study heterogeneity using the I|Eight studies were eligible, involving 779 child and adolescent refugees and asylum seekers, with studies conducted in 5 countries. The overall prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 22.71% (95% CI 12.79-32.64), depression 13.81% (95% CI 5.96-21.67), and anxiety disorders 15.77% (95% CI 8.04-23.50). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was 8.6% (1.08-16.12) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) was 1.69% (95% CI -0.78 to 4.16). Because of the high heterogeneity, further subgroup analyses were conducted.|Refugee and asylum seeker children have high rates of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Without the serious commitment by health and resettlement services to provide early support to promote mental health, these findings suggest that a high proportion of refugee children are at risk for educational disadvantage and poor social integration in host communities, potentially affecting their life course.

Extra: Edition: 20191126

R. Blackmore, K. M. Gray, J. A. Boyle, M. Fazel, S. Ranasinha, G. Fitzgerald, M. Misso, M. Gibson-Helm
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