Anxiety and sleepless nights are rampant among children of Mexican and Central American immigrants in the US, according to a new study.
Nearly half of teenagers with a parent who emigrated to California from one of these countries are concerned that their families are being split according to Trump government policies.
Their fears have deepened since the 2016 elections – and as they did, so did the number of anxiety and sleep disorders, the new University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and the Arizona State University (ASU) study.
The authors of the study suspect that children outside California – a sanctuary with a relatively flexible immigration policy – live with even higher levels of anxiety and more urgent fears for the safety of their families.
A family protests against divorces of immigrant parents from their children. Teenage children of immigrants from Latin America have a high level of anxiety under Trump's administration, a study suggests
With the exception of the two percent of the population who are Indians, every American family is an immigrant family.
About 18 million American children have at least one parent who has emigrated from another country.
These children have the same mental health rights as other Americans, but changes in immigration policies contribute to the fear of security in traditionally safe areas and are associated with reduced access to and use of health care and public services. wrote Dr. Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn and Angélica Cházaro from the University of Washington in an editorial commentary on the new study.
The new study, conducted by renowned professors of public and pediatric health at UC Berkeley and ASU and published in JAMA Pediatrics, one of the most advanced magazines in the US, suggests that these children may have the greatest need for mental health care.
After the elections, 41 to 45 percent of teenagers surveyed said they were worried about the impact of immigration policies on the family & # 39 ;, & # 39; about family separation due to deportation & # 39; or & # 39; that a family member would be reported to immigration officials. & # 39;
The more often and the greater the concerns of adolescents, the higher their anxiety levels were and the worse they slept.
President Trump campaigned against promises to build a wall to prevent people from the south from entering the US, and last week made plans to deport millions of illegal aliens who have found the United States illegally in a tweet .
& # 39; They will be removed as soon as they come in. & # 39;
And last year, an estimated 2,600 children were separated from their parents when families came to the US across the southern border.
Even in California, which was proclaimed by legislators as a place of refuge where residents could not be arrested based on immigration status in 2017, many children and teenagers live in fear.
Financial and personal safety as well as experience with racism are considered by the World Health Organization as important determinants of mental health and well-being.
The new study suggests that teenage children of immigrants may feel that these aspects of daily life exert increasing pressure on their families – and therefore on their own mental health.
Researchers at Berkeley have started monitoring the health of nearly 400 14-year-olds born in the US to one or more Latin American immigrant parents in 2016 prior to the presidential election.
They took the teen's blood pressure, the BMI, and assessed their anxiety and depression symptoms on a standardized scale and repeated the assessment two years later, after Trump was chosen.
During their second assessment, at the age of 16, the quality of the children's sleep was also assessed.
After the election, the teenagers were more anxious, anxious and did not sleep so well.
The results were staggering.
And that doesn't predict much good for their future, say the study authors, published in JAMA Pediatrics.
& # 39; These results are problematic because high levels of anxiety are not necessarily volatile & # 39 ;, says Nancy Gonzales, co-author of the study and dean of the natural science school at Arizona State University.
& # 39; They can affect other aspects of children's well-being, including their ability to stay in school, and if they live with long-term anxiety, it will also have long-term consequences for their physical health and sensitivity to problems such as alcohol and substance abuse. & # 39;
Her co-author, Julianna Deardorff, a mother and child health professor at the UC Berkeley public health school, said these children face treacherous threats that do not directly relate to the safety of their families.
& # 39; It is not only that these young people are confronted with the prospect that ICE will come to their door and take their parents away, but they must also navigate through institutions that may not feel friendly in this political climate, about themselves and their parents help, & she said.
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