Overcoming barriers to mental health care : multimodal trauma‑focused treatment approach for unaccompanied refugee minors

Background: This study evaluated the feasibility of a short-term, multimodal trauma-focused treatment approach adapted specifically for unaccompanied refugee minors (URMs) in the Netherlands. This approach aims to overcome barriers to mental health care and to reduce symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.


Methods: An uncontrolled study was conducted, evaluating the main request for help, treatment integrity and feasibility, and the course of symptoms of PTSD (Children’s Revised Impact of Event Scale-13) and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire modified for Adolescents).


Results: In total, 41 minors were included in the study. Most participants were male (n = 27), predominately from Eritrea (75.6%) with a mean age of 16.5 (SD = 1.5). Minors mostly reported psychological problems, such as problems sleeping, and psychosocial problems, including worries about family reunification. Deviations from the approach were made to meet the current needs of the minors. Factors limiting the feasibility of the approach were often related to continuous stressors, such as news concerning asylum status.


Conclusions: The results provide a first indication that this approach partly overcomes barriers to mental health care and emphasize the added value of collaborating with intercultural mediators and offering outreach care. 


Trial registration: The study was registered in the Netherlands Trial Register (NL8585), 10 April 2020, Retrospectively registered, https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/8585 .

Carlijn M. van Es, Marieke Sleijpen, Merel E. Velu, Paul A. Boelen, Renate E. van Loon, Marjan Veldman, Nebil Kusmallah, Paula J. C. Ekster & Trudy Mooren | 2021
In: Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health ; ISSN: 1753-2000 | 15 | 53
Adolescents, Anxiety Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Eritreans, Integrated Treatment, Migrants, Netherlands, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Refugees, Research, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Treatment, Unaccompanied Minors, Young Adults