Read this article to learn how mental health care coordinated through a settlement agency was effective in addressing symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and adjustment issues for refugees.
Settlement-Integrated Refugee Mental Health
Authors: Kirby Huminuik, Mohsen Eslami, Kathy Sherrell, Chris Friesen
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Refugees arriving in Canada encounter many barriers when accessing psychological services. This study investigated the effectiveness of a model of mental health care for refugees in which counselling was coordinated through a settlement agency and delivered by a multilingual, culturally responsive, multidisciplinary team. The results suggest that the interventions had an important role in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and that participants were highly satisfied with their counselling experience.
How does this research apply to my work?
- Settlement agencies are usually the first point of contact when refugees arrive and because settlement workers often provide informal emotional support, they are well-placed to identify refugees who may need specialized mental health support.
- Settlement services that integrate a trauma-informed approach can facilitate timely detection and intervention through early screening and referral to mental health professionals.
- Therapists who register with Interim Federal Health Program to receive reimbursement for their work with refugee clients may be more effective if they partner with settlement agencies to provide settlement-integrated care.
- Refugees are well served by counsellors who can offer culturally responsive services in first language, but building trust is crucial for essential for addressing fears.
What should I take away from this research?
When mental health care is co-located and coordinated through settlement agencies it can be effective and facilitate greater access to mental health services for refugee populations. The settlement-integrated approach allows refugees to overcome barriers to mental health care which include language, cultural stigmatization of mental health conditions, and unfamiliarity with the health care system.
What’s the next step?
The authors noted that a well balanced collaborative approach, in which psychologists, counsellors, and settlement workers are in active partnership, appears to promote engagement, increase therapeutic alliance, and prevent premature dropout from the counselling.