Press Releases

New Guide Helps Mental Health Professionals Serve Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

November 15, 2021
Contact: Willis Jacobson,

Children who arrive at the U.S. border without a parent or legal guardian are remarkably resilient, but many experience severe psychological trauma during their migration journeys and time in federal custody. These children are in critical need of trauma-informed, culturally responsive care. However, because of these unaccompanied children's unique experiences, even seasoned clinicians with expertise in child trauma may struggle to effectively provide mental health services to this population. Experts at the National Center for Youth Law, the Stanford Early Life Stress and Resilience Program and the Center for Trauma Recovery & Juvenile Justice have developed a new resource to help mental health providers more effectively meet unaccompanied children's therapeutic needs. Guidance for Mental Health Professionals Serving Unaccompanied Children Released from Government Custody reviews the layers of trauma unaccompanied children may experience throughout their journey – beginning in their home country, through their time in federal immigration custody, and upon release into the community. It also features quotes from detained unaccompanied children that illustrate their experiences in their own words. The Guide also includes:

  • An overview of the distinctive traumatic stressors impacting unaccompanied children,
  • General and specific characteristics of the type of government custody where unaccompanied children are placed that increases their likelihood of traumatic stress, and
  • Priorities for mental health professionals working with unaccompanied children

With this Guide, mental health professionals will have an understanding of the multi-layered impact that trauma has had on an unaccompanied child as well as the knowledge available to help them recover and thrive. Access the Guide here: Guidance for Mental Health Professionals Serving Unaccompanied Children Released from Government Custody.