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G501(P) To assess the functional status, social habits, and worries in a group of unaccompanied refugee and asylum-seeking minors and the implications of these on health behaviour and mental health
  1. A Woods1,
  2. C Wood1,2,
  3. J Thomas2,
  4. M Abraham2
  1. 1St Georges University, London, UK
  2. 2Charitable Organisation, Caras/KKF, London, UK

Abstract

Method Unaccompanied minors used a colour sticker system to answer questions about their abilities, function, social habits and desires, and worries during contact sessions with local charity.

Results “I worry about….feeling sad all the time” 83% respondents

“I worry about….not being able to sleep” 92% respondents

“I worry about….having nightmares” 66% respondents

“I worry about….the police” 50% respondents

“I worry about….my health” 42% respondents

55% described difficulty accessing health services

42% interviewed said that if they had a problem they would definitely share it with only 1 person, or no-one.

Conclusions The NHS is currently facing a crisis in providing mental health for young people-many young people with acute mental health needs are unable to access CAMHS beds in the wider area.

Our study has highlighted the potential for mental health problems in a group of young adults where ‘feeling sad’, ‘nightmares’ and ‘not sleeping’ are common occurrences. It is well documented that access to mental health services to asylum seekers during the resettlement period is very poor, however these unaccompanied minors are at further risk as they are on their own and often living with unknown adults and in undesirable accommodation. Protective factors to refugee/asylum seeking children have been documented as good settlement and social support in new country. However, for this specific group of children this is stability they often lack, putting them at further risk.

Studies and recent highly publicised reports have found that children in care are at higher risk of physical and sexual abuse and mental health problems, our study found that 16% would not feel comfortable sharing a problem with anyone, and a further 25% would only share it with 1 named role.

Ensuring a proactive approach to mental health in this community is key, small specialist organisations are vital for providing additional support to these unaccompanied minors, providing stability and facilitating positive, trusting relationships with adults.

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