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Transforming identities: Meeting the needs of refugee and asylum-seeking children in a child and adolescent mental health service in the National Health Service 

Transforming identities: Meeting the needs of refugee and asylum-seeking children in a child and adolescent mental health service in the National Health Service
Chapter:
Transforming identities: Meeting the needs of refugee and asylum-seeking children in a child and adolescent mental health service in the National Health Service
Author(s):

David Amias

, Karen Partridge

, Sherry Rehim

, and Nsimire Aimee Bisimwa

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198833741.003.0069
Page of

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date: 18 May 2021

In this chapter, a different approach for refugees and asylum-seeking children and young people referred to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is described. Clinicians working with this population group need to maintain a holistic, psychosocial perspective not constrained by CAMHS diagnostic categories. In many cases, the children and young people referred to CAMHS have functional family backgrounds with their ‘mental health disorder’ being the result of adverse experiences prior to or during the perilous journey they have undertaken before arriving in UK. Their essentially positive functioning provides the basis for a good recovery provided social conditions support them appropriately. Discerning when to offer what intervention is a crucial skill. Prosocial behaviours, resourcefulness, and strengths should be recognized and nurtured for these young people to develop their own preferred identities and start on a healthy process of integration into new society. Various types of intervention such as an emotional well-being group work and narrative-based interventions (for unaccompanied asylum seekers), community interventions, risk support to the professional network, direct work, as well as training frontline workers in assessing concerns about young people, offering effective emotional first aid and suitable referrals are described.

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