Question and Answer with Bonnie Wong and Vanessa Wright
The Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project facilitates a virtual Community of Practice (CoP) comprised of health, settlement and social services providers across Canada who support the mental health of immigrants and refugees. The CoP online discussion board allows providers to pose questions to the Project’s panel of subject matter experts (SMEs). We will be bringing you some of the questions posed by providers and answers provided by the SMEs.
How do you suggest staff working with refugees, particularly refugees who experienced torture, earn the trust of their client so that clients are open to discussing their concerns enough to refer them to the right healthcare, social, legal, childcare etc. services?
Bonnie Wong, Executive Director, Hong Fook Mental Health Association
As we continue to confront the long-term effects of isolation, social unrest and economic hardships brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, our society is also reckoning with promoting safety, well-being and healing exacerbated by trauma. Those who have already experienced so much trauma as a result of political, economic, religious, gender injustice and abuse, will have more difficulty being re-traumatized.
To earn the trust of clients, I think that the adoption of trauma-informed and resilience-oriented practices and crisis navigation are critical. The agency will also design and maintain healing environments that empower and resist re-traumatizing those who have already experienced so much trauma.
Suggestions to the agency to consider the following skills, competences, and behavior to support their staff:
- Define the steps needed to create a caring and resilient organization during chaos and refugee friendly environment
- Identify skills and techniques to promote a culture of compassionate resilience that fosters opportunities to thrive during crisis and beyond
- Understand the tools necessary to shift to a strengths-based environment.