Dallas Morning News: Families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border suffer PTSD, anxiety and depression, study finds

UC expert says 'important' study taps rarely used and insightful documents

A new study on the forcible separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border shows that many parents and children showed long-term, serious mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The research team reviewed medical evaluations detailing the mental health of 31 of these separated children and parents. Most of the families had already been reunited when they were evaluated.

In a story on the study, the Dallas Morning News turned to several experts for analysis and commentary, including Maria Espinola, PsyD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine.

Maria Espinola, PsyD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine

Maria Espinola, PsyD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative + Brand

The documents analyzed in the study were medico-legal documents, or documents dealing with both medical and legal issues, produced by clinical experts that detail an asylum seeker’s mental health.

“When a person is seeking asylum, they are asked to show what was the psychological harm they experienced in their country of origin,” said Espinola. “Someone who is an expert in the field has to evaluate them.”

“This is a very important study,” said Espinola, who was not involved in the research. “It is rare to see studies focus on medico-legal documents, especially within these populations.” These types of documents are rich with insights about how trauma impacts one’s mental health. But normally “they’re very hard to find, especially for research,” she said.

Read the entire story here. Free registration may be required to access the article. 

Lead photo/Paul Sancya/Associated Press

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