Tuesday, June 13, 2017

AMA Calls on Government to Improve Mental Health Care for Children, Families in Detention

The AMA House of Delegates on Monday approved several resolutions aimed at improving the health and mental health care of immigrants and refugees and their families being held in U.S. detention centers. 

At AMA’s annual policymaking meeting in Chicago, delegates approved resolutions that call on the AMA to do the following: 

  • Advocate for the health and mental health care of U.S. children in deportation proceedings against their undocumented parents.
  • Oppose the expansion of family immigration detention in the United States, oppose the separation of parents from their children who are detained while seeking safe haven, and advocate for access to health care for women and children in immigration detention centers.
  • Advocate for protections that prohibit U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or other law enforcement agencies from using information from medical records to pursue immigration enforcement actions against patients who are undocumented. 
  • Issue a public statement urging the ICE Office of Detention Oversight to revise its medical standards governing the conditions of confinement at detention facilities to meet those set by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare and track complaints related to substandard health care quality.

“The unpredictable stress and isolation associated with detainment have a significant potential to exacerbate and contribute to mental illness,” Laura Halpin, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured above), a first-year psychiatry resident at UCLA and a member of the Resident and Fellow Section, told physicians during a discussion of the issue. “Federal policymakers and responsible agency officials must ensure that detained individuals receive appropriate mental health treatment.”

Delegates will consider further resolutions today supporting international medical graduate (IMG) physicians who may be affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travel from certain countries. A six-member educational panel on the subject of physicians, health care, and immigration policy at the AMA meeting yesterday agreed that the executive order, though held up in courts, may affect whether physicians and researchers from other countries will want to come to the United States.

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Executive Orders Usher in Era of Uncertainty for IMGs, Program Directors.”

(Image: Mark Moran)


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