Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Impact of NPCT TA’s work with mainstream providers: North Carolina to Offer Mental Health Screenings to Incoming Refugees

The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT) is pleased to report on an NPCT E-learning project developed by course participant, Josh Hinson, a clinical instructor at the School of Social Work and program director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NPCT facilitates e-learning courses to increase the awareness and ability of mainstream providers to identify and serve refugees who have suffered severe trauma and torture.

After realizing the need for increased refugee mental health screenings upon arrival into the host country, Hinson responded by partnering with Church World Service resettlement staff in Durham, North Carolina to develop a screening procedure. The project will institute a method to identify severe mental health distress in newly arriving refugees and thereby develop a system of care for refugee mental health, including screening and referral to peer support groups, individual therapy, or community-based psychiatric care as appropriate.

Resettlement staff at Church World Service affiliate office CWS-RDU Immigration and Refugee Program will refer clients to Hinson’s project staff who are Masters of Social Work students for an intake screening using the RHS-15. Community Resource Coordinator at CWS-RDU, Kelly Cohen-Mazurowski, is thrilled to be able to offer mental health screenings to newly arrived refugee clients. In the past, clients were apprehensive about seeing a mental healthcare provider; however, now that clients have the opportunity to be screened in their homes with an interpreter present, there is a lot more openness to receiving mental health services. Cohen-Mazurowski explains “that many of the clients have received multiple home visits from Josh and his students and that they appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and to have help in adjusting to life here in the United States”.

The project will use a three-tiered response system: refugees whose screening is below the RHS-15 cutoff will be offered the opportunity to participate in peer support groups; refugees above the cutoff will be offered individual and/or family therapy, and will be assessed for appropriateness for group sessions; refugees whose bio-psycho-social assessment indicates severe mental illness will be offered psychiatric case management and will be assessed for appropriateness for group and individual/family therapy. MSW students who are in clinical training will select and provide the most culturally appropriate, evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment modalities to provide individual, family, and group treatment and/or case management.

Beth Farmer of Pathways to Wellness at Lutheran Community Services Northwest will be contracted for consultation regarding use of the RHS-15. In addition, Hinson’s project will utilize the Health Promotion and Wellness Format, developed by Dr. Richard Mollica and Jim Lavelle at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, as well as Pathways to Wellness’ Community Adjustment Support Group Curriculum.

Hinson attributes NPCT’s E-learning course to providing the opportunity to be immersed in theory and research on best practices with refugee survivors of torture and trauma. In addition, the E-learning course gave him the networking “opportunity to partner with a local refugee resettlement organization and planted the seeds for our current refugee mental health initiative.” NPCT wishes Josh and his students continued success.

NPCT can help your city/state develop similar tools to help refugees who have experienced severe trauma and torture. Please contact us to be a part of the growing network of cities that are working effectively with survivors of torture through the technical assistance provided by NPCT.

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