'We Can Begin To Heal the Wounds.' Inside the Efforts to Provide Mental Health Care to Families Separated at the U.S. Border

Jasmine Aguilera - Time

This article from Time shares the stories of families who were separated at the U.S. border with Mexico who are now receiving free mental health services to address the trauma of family separation, as a result of a court order that requires the U.S. government to pay for it. "In November 2019, a court ordered the U.S. government to cover the cost of mental health care until January 2021 for any families who experienced separation at the U.S.-Mexico border," says the article. "The court order came after three immigrant mothers who experienced separation sued the federal government in 2018 on behalf of all separated parents to ask the government to pay for mental health services. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that deadline was pushed back to June 2021. Now organizations are working to connect families to these services."

Cheryl Aguilar, founder and lead therapist at the Hope Center for Wellness in Washington, D.C., who has provided therapy for families who experienced separation noted: “we had all the data, we knew all the information, we knew the ramifications of separating these families, and yet these actions were done. We know that once trauma occurs, there’s a mark for a very long time, if not for the rest of your life. That’s what has been done to these kids and these families. The damage is done.”

The article explores some of the challenges to providing mental health care to these families, including locating the parents and children, and the impacts of COVID-19 on the process. It also highlights some of the evidence and statements from experts, including the American Pediatric Association, regarding the "irreparable damage" caused by family separation and child detention.