WASHINGTON, D.C. July 9, 2019 — The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is deeply concerned with the recent reports regarding the conditions children and their families who are seeking asylum at the U.S. border are being held in, and the traumatic affects those conditions will have on their mental health. In response, the APA released this statement from APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D.:
“Every effort should be made to mitigate the impact of long-term detainment and minimize the number of days that families spend in detention. Scientific studies and clinical experience show that stress and adversity are particularly harmful when these events happen during significant periods of emotional and brain development, such as the first few years of life and adolescence. For example, children who have been exposed to chronic or intensely stressful life events are known to be at increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorderas well as long-term developmental, learning and health problems. Separating children from their parents and keeping them in extended custody in overcrowded conditions increases the risks for negative long-term psychological harm.
APA calls on the Administration to follow the Flores Settlement Agreement and hold detainment centers to the maximum safety and compliance requirements, ensuring that these children and families receive humane care.”
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,500 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.