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Healing Under Oath: Biopsychosocial Dimensions of the US Asylum System

Citation: Hunter-Haydon, Daisy (2020) Healing Under Oath: Biopsychosocial Dimensions of the US Asylum System. [Discussion or working paper]

RLI WPS No. 46.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This paper aims to understand the ecological impacts of the asylum system from the perspective of mental health and social service professionals in the United States. Fifteen professionals who provide mental health and psychosocial support services for asylum-seekers were interviewed about the ways in which the asylum regime interacts with treatment outcomes for their clients. Professionals emphasized the holistically detrimental impacts of the asylum system, citing long waits, resource scarcity, the inability to work, a legal timeline that may push applicants to disclose trauma before they are emotionally ready to do so, an atmosphere of uncertainty and confusion and a climate of criminalisation. Participants described how they provide support and advocacy for their clients in spite of these unfavorable conditions. This research demonstrates that mental health and psychosocial support professionals are an untapped resource for expert knowledge about the biopsychosocial features of the asylum regime, and argues that asylum-seeking creates a framework for applicants’ lives that holds far-ranging psychological and social implications that stretch beyond legal proceedings.

Creators: Hunter-Haydon, Daisy and
Subjects: Human Rights & Development Studies
Sociology & Anthropology
Keywords: asylum, asylum-seekers, mental health, psychosocial support, social work, United States
Divisions: Human Rights Consortium
Collections: Refugee Law Initiative
  • 10 July 2020 (published)


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