Unprecedented Coalition of Mental Health Organizations Partner to Support Separated Families at the U.S. Border

Give an Hour – the lead organization for the Campaign to Change Direction, a national nonprofit providing pro-bono mental health services – announced today that they are partnering with the American Psychological Association (APA), California Psychological Association (CPA) and California Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT) to expand support for those affected by the humanitarian crisis continuing to develop at the U.S. border.

Give an Hour currently consists of approximately 7,000 mental health professionals, providing free and confidential mental health care to those in need; to-date, they have donated more than 250,000 hours of free care, valued at more than $25 million. Through these partnerships, Give an Hour will be able to enlist the support of tens of thousands of additional licensed mental health professionals – particularly Spanish-speaking providers located in U.S. border states – while also considering the children and families that have been moved to facilities in many states across the country. Mental health professionals around the country are being asked to join the network in the event that their services are needed.

“We continue to follow the news regarding immigrants and refugee families being separated and displaced at and beyond the U.S. border and are so grateful to the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association and California Marriage and Family Therapy Association for joining us in this effort to provide care and relief,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, Founder and President of Give an Hour. “These partnerships will not only ensure that we have the necessary providers to offer support to these families, it will also greatly increase the likelihood that these children and families will recover from the separation and possible trauma they are experiencing.”

These efforts with APA are part of a broader partnership with Give an Hour and the Campaign to Change Direction. The partnership aims to maximize the impact of the Give an Hour network by enlisting the support of APA members and harnessing their skills and expertise in order to increase the likelihood that those in need receive the support and care they deserve. Give an Hour believes that within our own communities we have the resources to address many of the challenges that face our society that often result in emotional pain and suffering.

“APA is working to support humane immigration policies that consider the needs of immigrant children and families, and the psychological science on the adverse effects of lengthy parent-child separations on children’s cognitive and emotional development,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “APA members are committed to improving not only the policies that lead to family separation, but also the outcome for those families affected. This partnership with Give an Hour complements the Refugee Mental Health Resources Network developed by the APA divisions on trauma psychology, on the psychology of women, on international psychology and on pharmacotherapy.  I am pleased that APA’s new partnership with Give an Hour will give our members a new way to directly contribute their time to this vital cause.”

As recently highlighted, researchers are finding evidence that the trauma caused by family separation threatens mental health as much as the atrocities families experience in the countries they are fleeing. Investigators collected data on PTSD symptoms, depression and anxiety symptoms and psychological well-being in 165 adult refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and the African Great Lakes region. They also measured 27 different types of trauma exposure in the participants, such as fear for their lives, the destruction of their homes and being kidnapped. Only two of the 27 types of trauma—family separation and physical assault, beatings, or torture—explained significant variance in all three measures of mental health after taking into account refugees’ overall level of trauma exposure (American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 88, No. 1, 2018).

“CPA is eager to join with Give an Hour to address the humanitarian crisis we are seeing at our borders,” said Jo Linder-Crow, PhD, CEO of the California Psychological Association. “Psychologists in California are asking how to help, and Give an Hour has a proven track record of being able to link those who are willing to volunteer their time with those who most need their services. This is a perfect complement to the work our Immigration Task Force has done in developing recommendations for psychologists working in this area. The need is great, and we are committed to being part of the solution.”

Since its founding in 2005, Give an Hour has consistently expanded its efforts to address the mental health needs of communities affected by national tragedies and traumas. Give an Hour has the capacity to help those who are experiencing grief, loss and anxiety and is proud to serve those in need. By harnessing the skills and generosity of citizens across our nation and around the world, they can provide those who are suffering with help and hope – offering those who care the opportunity to give. Visit giveanhour.org to learn more and to sign up as a provider and volunteer.



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