In 2008, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published an issue brief, entitled Treating the Hidden Wounds: Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Recovery for Victims of Human Trafficking, which focused on the mental health needs of victims of human trafficking. This issue brief highlighted the impact of trauma on this population and the need for trauma-informed care. The same year, ASPE sponsored a National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims, which reiterated the complex health issues of this population and discussed the role of healthcare workers in addressing these needs.
While these forums, as well as others, have served an important role in documenting the mental health needs of victims of human trafficking, questions regarding the best treatment options for this population remain. To date, limited research has been conducted to assess the impact of various mental health therapeutic treatments, hindering mental healthcare providers understanding of which therapeutic methods work best when treating this population. To begin addressing some of the questions regarding mental health treatment, this issue brief examines the evidence-based research for treating common mental health conditions experienced by victims of human trafficking.