Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among unaccompanied asylumseeking adolescents in Norway

Jakobsen, M., Meyer, M., & Heir, T. (2014). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among unaccompanied asylumseeking adolescents in Norway. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health, 10(1), 53-58. doi:10.2174%2F1745017901410010053

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are known to be subjected to several potentially traumatic life events, risking more mental health problems than other populations of same age. In this study, we aimed to explore the prevalence of psychiatric morbidity at an early stage after arrival to the host country. We performed structured clinical interviews (CIDI) with 160 male UASC from different countries (Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran), after four months in Norway. Most of the participants had experienced life threatening events (82%), physical abuse (78%), or loss of a close relative (78%) in their former life. Altogether 41.9% of the participants fulfilled diagnostic criteria for a current psychiatric disorder. The most prevalent diagnosis was PTSD (30, 6%), followed by MDD (9, 4%), Agoraphobia (4, 4%) and GAD (3, 8%). Implications of this vulnerability call for more mental health resources in the early stages of the asylum process. Increased awareness of psychiatric morbidity in UASC may improve the prognosis, give more appropriate care, and ease the integration process on all levels of society.

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