In June 2014, a Center for Survivors of Torture (CST) was established in recognition of the high need for treatment and support services to refugees suffering from mental health problems and trauma. While many support services exist for refugee resettlement, psychosocial services have not been a priority due to a lack of resources and training for resettlement staff. The researchers are interested in developing best practices in order to improve mental health screening for refugees. The goal of this study is to increase referrals to CST in order to connect newly arrived refugees with better rehabilitation services.
The Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15) is a valid and effective screening tool to assess the mental health status of refugees. The researchers are in the process of applying this tool during semi-structured interviews with all newly arrived refugees, ages 18 and older, through one resettlement agency. Screenings are conducted at home or at the agency office. This project is in collaboration with resettlement service providers. Consent and demographic information are obtained through phone or on-site interpreter if the refugee does not speak English. Since the RHS-15 is available in different languages, it is also used as a self-reported tool. The researchers are trained in implementing research practices that are trauma-informed and are placing significant emphasis on ensuring that all components of this study lie within a trauma-informed and human rights framework.
The number and type of referrals will be described based on the results of application of the RHS-15. Data regarding mental health problems among newly arrived refugees and the relationship between these problems and the socio-demographic status of refugees will also be reported. The results of this research will be utilized to integrate the application of RHS-15 into the intake for all newly arrived refugees. The researchers anticipate developing a best practices model for rehabilitative assessment that is trauma-informed, client-centered, and strengths-based. The research team, in collaboration with agency staff, will also use the results to promote mental health awareness and increase the use of this screening in other sectors such as health care and nonprofits. Outcomes will include utilizing data from this study in order to advocate for increased funding and resources for services for refugee survivors of trauma and torture, a growing population in the Western NY region.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.