Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 69–85 | Cite as

New Directions in Refugee Youth Mental Health Services: Overcoming Barriers to Engagement

  • B. HeidiEmail author
  • Alisa B. Miller
  • Heather Baldwin
  • Saida Abdi
Ecological Factors and Trauma


Mental health outcomes in refugee youth are diverse, ranging from prolonged difficulties to resiliency. Refugee communities rarely access services, even for those youth who are in need. Barriers include (a) distrust of authority and/or systems, (b) stigma of mental health services, (c) linguistic and cultural barriers, and (d) primacy and prioritization of resettlement stressors. Mental health promotion among refugee youth requires an integrated response to these barriers. This article includes a description of how the previously mentioned barriers may prevent refugee youth from receiving mental health services; approaches to addressing them; and a detailed description of Supporting the Health of Immigrant Families and Adolescents (Project SHIFA), a program developed in collaboration with the Somali community in Boston, Massachusetts.


refugee treatment engagement service access trauma 


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Copyright information

© Taylor & Francis Group, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Heidi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alisa B. Miller
    • 1
    • 3
  • Heather Baldwin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Saida Abdi
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryChildren’s Hospital BostonBostonUSA
  2. 2.Harvard Medical SchoolUSA
  3. 3.Boston University Children’s Hospital BostonUSA

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