Burden, Drivers, and Impacts of Poor Mental Health in Young People of West and Central Africa: Implications for Research and Programming

Human Development

  • March 2020
  • General

The West African youth presence in the American postindustrial port City of Newark, New Jersey, is significant, varied, and intricately woven into the social fabric, in both present-day and historic terms. The outwardly seamless integration of these young Black immigrants into Newark’s residential, social, and commercial life belies the distinctive circumstances under which they have arrived, kinds and levels of resources upon which they can draw,
and pathways available to them as they endeavor to thrive. For instance, in 2010, under the headline “Held as slaves, now free,” CNN reported the crackdown of a highly profitable child trafficking operation in the Newark
Metropolitan Area. Some 20 girls, most in their early teens, from various West African countries, testified to being held captive by a Togolese couple, who tricked them into traveling to the United States on the promise
of an education, then forced them to work 14- to 16-hour days in hair braiding salons, boasting a largely African American clientele (Bronstein, Lyon, & Poolos, 2010; Salomon, 2010).