Denmark: Third of asylum children suffering from mental disorders

The situation of children in Danish asylum centers has been studied for the first time.  The results show that a third of the 246 children studied, between 4 and 16 years old, had one or more mental illnesses.

Research assistant Signe Smith Nielsen, who worked on the study for the Institute for Public Health at Copenhagen University, says it's surprising and that it brings up a scary picture because there so many children who show signs of mental illness.

The study, which covered 95% of the children and which was published in Ugeskrift for Læger (medical weekly) is a so-called screening, in which Red Cross employed teachers answered questions on every asylum child.

The answers to the center staff show that besides mental illnesses the children have an inadequate life quality and a weak social network.

In addition, children 11-16 were asked for their thoughts on their mental wellbeing.  The children's answers show that 58% of this age group are probably suffering from mental illness, writes the institute.

Signe Smith Nielsen says she is convinced that a large part of the children answered honestly and did not exaggerate in this way or the other.  International literature also shows that older children staying in asylum centers do suffer from such illnesses.

The screening can't establish mental illness, but primarily detects symptoms.  The Institute for Public Health calls therefore to study the causes for the children's condition, concurrently with treating their illnesses.

78% of the children had been asylum seekers for more than 2 years and the average time in asylum centers was 4 years.  On average the children had lived in about six asylum centers in Denmark.

Ebbe Munk-Andersen of the Danish Red Cross, which contributed to financing the study, says that the study confirms their worst suspicions.

Another new Danish medical study published in the biomedical portal BMC confirms that the longer asylum seekers stay at asylum centers the more referrals they got for mental illnesses.

Source: Politiken (Danish)

The studies mentioned can be read here: Ugeskrift (PDF, danish), BioMedCentral (English)

See also: Denmark: Asylum seekers attempting suicide in order to be accepted

No comments: