Saturday, February 24th, 2018

Creating Refugee Wellness Programs in Ohio and North Carolina

Resettled refugees in the U.S. face many barriers to self-sufficiency including language, employment, and lack of culturally appropriate health programs to meet unique health and wellness needs. The lack of culturally competent healthcare providers, combined with limited opportunities for resettled refugees to have a voice in public health arenas to represent their own needs directly, often leaves a gap between providers and consumers and can lead to inadequately addressed physical and mental health issues. This presentation will cover a newly developed Refugee Health and Wellness Program in Columbus, Ohio that identifies refugees in need of mental health support and liaises with healthcare providers and public health infrastructures to connect individuals to culturally appropriate services, reducing isolation and stigma and increasing access to services. This presentation will include policy suggestions for engaging healthcare providers and public health networks with resettled refugee communities, allowing for increased communication, engagement, and better-addressed health needs.
In addition, this presentation will cover a pilot project at the UNC School of Social Work to assess the mental health needs of refuges and to test the feasibility and acceptability of mental health interventions with refugee populations. MSW students, working in a field education unit, partner with area refugee resettlement agencies to conduct mental health screenings using the Refugee Health Screener – 15 (RHS-15) and provide mental health treatment for this population. The project incorporates a quasi-experimental design to gather data on the effectiveness of treatment. This session will include discussion on opportunities for collaboration among schools of social work, resettlement agencies, and mental health providers. Participants will identify steps for replication of the model in their own communities.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Summarize the steps necessary for a school of social work to develop a partnership with local refugee resettlement and interpreter agencies, as well as processes for developing a program that will build student capacity to serve refugee populations
  2. Review research findings indicating the effectiveness of the model in reducing refugees’ emotional distress
  3. Examine the implications that the programs have for mental health service delivery to refugee populations so far, and explore opportunities for continued research, replication, dissemination, professional training, and policy advocacy
  4. Participants have an understanding of the major barriers that can occur between healthcare consumers and providers.
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