Young refugees: Overcoming barriers to psychotherapy 2

Young refugees: Overcoming barriers to psychotherapy

A consortium supported by the Federal Ministry of Research intends to establish more tailored offers for the treatment of traumatized young refugees. "The psychological burden of unaccompanied refugee youth is great," said Rita Rosner, a professor at the Catholic University participating in Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, an evangelical press service (epd).

Many of the approximately 70,000 adolescents who came to Germany between 2015 and 2017 without their parents did not receive adequate psychotherapy. This compromises the chances of successful integration, said the head of the Department of Clinical and Biological Psychology.

PTSD is widespread

Between 30 and 50 percent of adolescents have mental health problems, especially post-traumatic stress disorders, Rosner explained. "It's accompanied by depression and anxiety." Those affected often exhibited impaired social behavior, had problems at school, found it difficult to integrate into their environment, or resorted to drugs.

Her care is often not appropriate. There are no government offers for treatment. "And there are too many barriers to preventing rapid and effective access to therapies," the professor said. For this reason, a common concept of "Better Care" was developed, also supported by the Ulm University Hospital, whose Günzburger Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Clinic and the German Youth Institute in Munich.

Layer therapy approach

"We have a layered approach that relies on scientifically proven prevention or intervention," the expert said. This is an essential feature of existing therapies. "In addition, we are actively seeking potential patients so that we can go to youth support services ourselves."

Youth refugees are initially recorded through online questionnaires in ten languages. "Teens use tablets daily, are less prone to mistakes, and easily accessible everywhere." According to the information, there is a group program in the first phase of therapy. It was run by youth workers who worked closely with child and adolescent psychotherapists. For clinical cases, there is special behavioral therapy from different modules.

Rosner hopes the concept will be extended to the entire state. She suggests that "such an approach is less expensive in the long run, as we may be able to reduce frequent psychiatry visits and make better use of total treatment time."