Migrant Mental Health, Law, and Detention: Impacts and Alternatives

Part of the International Perspectives on Migration book series (IPMI, volume 7)


Asylum is granted to about 30,000 of over 75,000 refugees that arrive in the U.S. each year, and most have experienced severe trauma and possibly torture. It is the role of the state to not only protect asylum seekers with mental disabilities but to foster mental health within this vulnerable population. Numerous legal barriers to addressing refugee mental health exist because of a lack of procedural safeguards in immigration proceedings and detention centers. Various options piloted in the immigration system or modeled on the criminal justice system could help ensure due process, increase resolution of cases and good case outcomes, and create a fairer system for immigrants with mental illness, particularly programs using social workers and psychologists who work with attorneys to promote access to services. More research is needed to create a system of health services and legal protections that cultivate refugee mental health and resilience.


Asylum seekers Mental health/illness Trauma Immigration justice Immigration court Immigration detention Forensic psychology Appointed counsel Procedural safeguards Public health Medical associations Medicalization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mailman School of Public Health (MPH)Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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