Refugee children are among the most vulnerable in our schools and can face a range of challenges. Continuing her series for SecEd on supporting our most vulnerable young people, Clare Stafford seeks some expert advice

Refugee children, for many reasons, can be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. Dr Mina Fazel, associate professor in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Oxford, is a clinical psychiatrist with a long-standing interest in the mental health needs of refugees.

She has conducted research on the epidemiology of mental health problems in refugee children, the risk factors and protective influences. Dr Fazel believes schools have a key role to play in the mental wellbeing of young refugees.

“The most important issues,” she told me, “are the child’s environment and their background. These children have likely come from a difficult environment and may have had no experience of education, or a very disrupted experience. They might have been exposed to traumatic events and a whole range of losses.

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