Understanding culture-specific risk and protective factors associated with mental health among Latinos is essential. Unaccompanied children and youths are a particularly significant risk for psychological distress, including depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress and are less likely to access culturally responsive mental health services and continue to be undiagnosed or untreated. This can lead to negative outcomes such as negative interactions at school and with authorities, increased disconnection from family and society, and exposure to the criminal justice system. Even when released to the community, Latino unaccompanied children (UC) and youths often struggle to find a safe haven and are susceptible to abuse, crime victimization, difficulties adjusting to a new language and culture, and lack of needed educational, medical, mental health, and legal resources. Also, the provision of psychoeducation services to unaccompanied minors and their families about the stressors faced during the pre-migration, in-journey, and post-migration can serve to validate their experiences and help them navigate obstacles over time. Challenges that can be encountered during engagement with the client and their family will be discussed as well as resources and recommendations.
1. Recognize the effects of immigration detention and family separation on the attachment reactions of Hispanic unaccompanied children and youths.
2. Discuss Hispanic and Latino culture-specific risk and protective factors associated with mental health.
3. Consider the use of psychoeducation interventions to engage Hispanic unaccompanied children and youths and their parents into mental health and community services.