Chicago, Illinois - Immigrants and refugees to the United States are at risk of psychological harm due to factors including the stress of starting a new life away from family and culture, as well as prejudice and discrimination, the American Psychological Association asserted in adopting a resolution supporting “practical and humane immigration policies that consider the well-being of immigrants and refugees, and particularly families, including the provision of appropriate medical, mental health and social services.”

“Family separation and child detention are especially harmful,” the APA policy statement says (PDF, 165KB). “One study of children in schools found that those who had experienced longer separations from their parents also reported more signs of depression and anxiety than those who had not experienced long separation. Other negative outcomes for children associated with separation from their parents include housing instability, food insecurity, interrupted schooling, poorer academic performance, and adverse behavioral/emotional responses. Sustained parental separation also predicts the ongoing natural response of difficulty trusting adults and institutions, as well as reduced educational attainment.”

The APA policy calls on federal and state governments to provide sufficient funding to ensure that immigrants and refugees are able to access appropriate health and social services.