The Refugee Mental Health Resource Network: An APA Interdivisional Project

There has been a growing urgency to address the global migration problem impacting many nations including the U.S. The recent 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 has catapulted the issue to the front pages of news outlets. Division 56 is proud to have Elizabeth Carll chairing this interdivisional project to address issues related to the refugee crisis.

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. 

Background

Recognizing that there will be a growing need for mental health expertise to work with refugees and immigrants and there was no organized initiative to address this need was the impetus for the development Refugee Mental Health Resource Network. The project which began being developed in 2016 as the Division 56 presidential initiative of 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 received for 2017. The grant enabled 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, are not areas of training in most universities.

This APA interdivisional grant was spearheaded by Division 56 and co-sponsored by Divisions 35, 52, and 55. However, other Divisions and some state psychological associations are now also collaborating and others are in process and international volunteers are also being included. The initiative includes a database of more than 450 volunteers interested in working with refugees, immigrants, and internally displaced people (IDPs). 

Since 2017, there have been 8 webinars organized and conducted for those interested in volunteering with refugees, immigrants and IDPs. Division 56 is approved to provide APA CE credits and we have recently been approved for home study CE, so prior and upcoming webinars will be available on demand for those interested in working with refugees, immigrants, and internally displaced people (IDPs) as well as other Division webinars.

A website was also developed to be able to search the skills of volunteers who are 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.

Questions and comments and suggested resources can be sent to refmhresnetwk2@optimum.net.

The Refugee Mental Health Resource Network Steering Committee consists of Elizabeth Carll, chair; Betsy Gard, vice-chair; Brigitte Khoury, Elaine LeVine, Diana Prescott, and George Rhoades.