“Separating families is a humanitarian and health crisis” is the title of a new Opinion article by The Seattle Times written by pediatrician Dr. Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn. This health professional is far from alone in speaking out against the administration.

Individuals and organizations (including from the fields of psychology, medicine, and public health) have publicly expressed their concerns about the policies on the health (physical and mental) of the immigrant families impacted. These statements are powerful and deserve serious attention. #FamiliesBelongTogether is being used on Twitter as well as other methods to spread the word about the impact of the policies on immigrants.

Psychology of separation

APA’s President, Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel, and CEO, Dr. Arthur Evans noted that research indicated that anxiety and depression get worse when it comes to long periods of separation from parental figures.


Elizabeth Dawson-Hahn also said via The Seattle Times, that “The American Academy of Pediatrics" is very much against the "family separation" policy. According to her, "Repeated traumas" have been linked to the increasing risks of "mental illness, developmental delay, and chronic health conditions."

CNN reported that Dr.

Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said: “This is something that was inflicted on this child by the government, and really is nothing less than government-sanctioned child abuse.”

Doctor Eugene Gu also made his feelings known on Twitter.

Public Health

“It is an abhorrent practice that violates both the human rights of the individuals directly involved and the values of the American people.

The practice of separating families, including infant children from their mothers, rightly embarrasses America and its citizens in the eyes of the world.” This was noted by the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health's Public Health Director, Donna Petersen, on the @drJoshS Twitter account.

Time for action

Experts in psychology, public health, and medicine have openly stated that the administration’s current policies increase the risk of developing PTSD, depression, anxiety, developmental delay, and chronic health conditions.

However, to make a difference, it is not enough to just press a "like" button on a relevant tweet.

The short and long-term impacts of family separation should not be downplayed, as demonstrated by the released statements by health organizations. Now is the time to stand up for the families who have been stripped of their rights and even their health. This is not an issue of party politics. This is an issue of human rights and is a mental health crisis which may very well be life or death.

The damage that has already been done cannot be undone, but it is possible to change the direction taken from here. American or not, families belong together.