Increased mental health concerns in Latino adolescents exposed to detention or deportation

1. Latino and Latina adolescents experiencing the detention and/or deportation of family members were found to have an increased risk of alcohol use, clinical externalizing behaviors, and suicidal ideation.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Since the expansion of 2017 policy changes in the US, the mental health effects on Latino and Latina youth who are experiencing deportation and/or detention have been a major concern. This prospective survey study conducted across suburban middle schools in Atlanta, Georgia randomly selected 547 Latino and Latina adolescents (mean age [SD] = 12.8 [1.0] years, 55.4% female) from sex and grade groups. A six-month follow-up was also conducted with these participants. Response rates varied between parents who were contacted (65.2%) and adolescents who were contacted with permission (81.5%). Approximately 24.9% of the sample had experienced the detainment or deportation of a family member within the past year. Controlling for baseline variables, these traumatic experiences were associated with a significant increase in odds of alcohol use (difference 11.1%, adjusted OR 2.98, 95% CI 1.26 to 7.04), clinical externalizing behaviors (difference 11.4%, adjusted OR 2.76, 95% CI 1.11 to 6.84), and suicidal ideation (difference 11.8%, adjusted OR 2.37, 95% CI 1.06 to 5.29). This study highlights the substantial psychological impacts of Latino and Latina adolescents who experience the deportation or detention of family members due to the US policies currently in place. These adolescents must be met with adequate primary care, with the inclusion of screening for mental health concerns to ensure that they can seek the appropriate treatment.

Click to read the study in JAMA Pediatrics

Image: PD

©2020 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. Inquire about licensing here. No article should be construed as medical advice and is not intended as such by the authors or by 2 Minute Medicine, Inc.