Refugee Mental Health Resource Network
The Refugee Mental Health Resource Network: An APA Interdivisional Project
Elizabeth Carll, Ph.D., Chair
There has been a growing urgency to address the global migration problem impacting many nations including the U.S. The crisis resulting from the separation of children from their parents and families when attempting to seek refuge in the U.S. at the Texas border had catapulted the issue to the front pages of news outlets and has continued to spotlight immigration issues arising in many other venues.
If you are interested in volunteering to provide pro-bono services to refugee and immigrant children, adults, and families, please go to www.refugeementalhealthnet.org and sign up and join the Network. Volunteering to help others will be a rewarding experience. See background information below.
Recognizing that there will be a growing need for mental health experts to work with refugees and immigrants and there was no organized initiative to address this need was the impetus for the development of the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network (RMHRN). The project which began being developed in 2016 as the Division 56 presidential initiative of Dr. Elizabeth Carll was quickly expanded realizing that the success of the project would require a broader APA involvement as well as international involvement and the reason it was decided to apply for a CODAPAR grant which was approved and began in 2017.
The grant facilitated the launch of the Network and underwriting the cost of developing the searchable database of volunteers and beginning the development of webinars to train psychologists. The webinars were important, as working with refugees, including asylum evaluations, were not areas of training in most universities.
This initial APA interdivisional grant was spearheaded by Division 56 (Trauma) and co-sponsored by Divisions 35, 52, and 55. In addition, other Divisions and some state psychological associations were also collaborating. The initiative included establishing a database, eventually growing to more than 600 volunteers interested in working with refugees, immigrants, and internally displaced people (IDPs).
In 2020, Refugee Mental Health Resource Network, demonstrating sustainability over the previous 4 years, received another CODAPAR grant to be led by Division 52 (International) for 2021, in support of the RMHRN with Divisions 52, 56, 7, 35, 38 participating. The grant focused on further upgrading the database and expanding the international outreach of the Network.
Since 2017, there have been 22 webinars organized and conducted for those interested in volunteering with refugees, immigrants and internally displaced people (IDPs). Division 56 which had been previously approved to provide APA CE credits was subsequently approved for home study CE, with prior and future webinars now available on-demand for those interested in working with refugees, immigrants, and IDPs, as well as other Division webinars.
A website was also developed to be able to search the skills of volunteers who were registered in the database. The database includes licensed practitioners, researchers, as well as students. It was decided to include students as there was much interest and in some instances, they may be able to participate in certain activities and would also benefit from the webinars. In addition, the database includes agencies and organizations expressing interest in receiving pro-bono psychological services.
Questions and suggested resources can be sent to RefMHResNetwk2@optimum.net.
Click Here to access Refugee Mental Health Resources Network webinars.