Mental Health Organizations Urge Administration to Halt Policy Separating Children and Parents at U.S. Border

Washington, D.C. – Today the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and 17 other mental health organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services, urging the administration to immediately end its policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border.

The letter states that “children are dependent on their parents for safety and support. Any forced separation is highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, the longer that children and parents are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression for the children.”

In addition to the APA, the following organization signed the letter: American Art Therapy Association, American Association of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, American Group Psychotherapy Association, American Nurses Association, American Psychoanalytic Association, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice, Council on Social Work Education, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, National Association for Rural Mental Health, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, National Health Care for the Homeless Council and National Register of Health Service Psychologists.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,800 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit www.psychiatry.org.

Media Contacts

Glenn O'Neal, 202-459-9732
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Erin Connors, 202-609-7113
econnors@psych.org