photo: Jenny Hellström/SR
Psychologist Katrin Sepp. Photo: Jenny Hellström/SR

Anxiety common among young refugees

2:59 min

The large increase in the number of refugee minors has meant more work for the psychiatric outpatient clinic in Borås where a lead doctor says young asylum seekers often deal with difficult psychological disorders.

Swedish Radio's local channel in Borås reported that just last year the number of psychiatric patients at the Södra Älvsborg Hospital increased by 30 percent, and the largest increase was of children and adolescents many of whom suffer from anxiety disorders like PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder).

Katrin Sepp, head of the outpatient psychiatric clinic for asylum seekers at Södra Älvsborg, told Radio Sweden that young people with PTSD may avoid certain activities, places and people that might trigger memories of a traumatic event. They may have trouble sleeping and concentrating and may become irritable.

The working conditions and training of staff at homes for unaccompanied minors has come into the media spotlight this week. Monday a 22-year-old staff member at a youth home in Mölndal died after she was stabbed by a 15-year-old unaccompanied minor who was known to have psychological problems. Wednesday night a fight at an accomodation for unaccompanied minors in Emmaboda municipality became so violent that the staff locked themselves in a room.

Sepp said that her hospital met patients from many recently-opened youth homes.

"Five years ago when I started here we had only one accomodation for those children. And now we have more like 40," said Sepp.

She said that just their newness can affect the ability for staff at refugee accomodations to manage patients with anxiety disorders.

"When accomodations are very new, it means the same week that the staff starts to work they get the first children. It means they don't have the time or the chance to get to know each other as colleagues, to have discussions about how we're going to manage this challenge," she said.

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