Intended for healthcare professionals


Mental health of refugee children: comparative study

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 17 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:134
  1. Mina Fazel, clinical lecturer (,
  2. Alan Stein, professor1
  1. 1Section of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX
  1. Correspondence to: M Fazel
  • Accepted 1 May 2003


In 2002, over 110 000 people entered Britain to seek asylum—a 250% increase in five years.1 Children, who comprise at least a quarter of asylum seekers, are exposed to numerous risk factors for psychological disturbance, including exposure to violence, forced displacement, and multiple losses. 2 The rates of mental health problems in refugee children are uncertain, but the few studies that have been done suggest that refugee children incur significant morbidity.2

We examined the rates of psychological disturbance in a sample of UK children who were refugees and compared them with a group of children who were from an ethnic minority but were not refugees and a group of indigenous white children.

Participants, methods, and results

The six schools in Oxford with the largest number of refugee children agreed to participate. At these schools, all 115 children who were refugees or seeking asylum were identified, …

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