Tolga Taneli, assistant professor, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School department of psychiatry, is available this afternoon and tomorrow to discuss the long- and short-term mental health effects on children of all ages who are separated from their parents at the Mexico/U.S. border.
“Attachment is the innate process of seeking proximity and comfort from an identified attachment figure, which then allows the child to explore the world from a secure base,” says Taneli. “The process is a requisite to health development and when interfered with during the critical period from infancy to toddlerhood, ill effects can compound and impair a child’s mental health for life. Older children are also at risk when separated from their parents: Persistent anxiety states, depression and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can follow acute distress following the apparent loss of the attachment figure. It’s important to remember, too, that the journey to the border is fraught with anxiety and fear, with families leaving behind their home, nearly all their belongings and most of their significant relationships. It is a journey begun with high stakes. The presence of such duress, heightens the risk of trauma on separation from parents.”