Presentation Title

Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Services in Refugees

Presenter's Name(s)

Choeden LamaFollow

Project Collaborators

Holly Weldon (Clinical Psychology PhD Candidate, Mentor), Karen Fondacaro (Clinical Psychology Professor, Director of Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center)

Abstract

A significant percentage of refugees and asylum seekers who resettle in other countries experience trauma and high levels of psychological distress. Despite elevated mental health symptoms, refugees are not likely to access needed mental health services. A number of variables impact the underutilization of mental health services by refugees and asylum seekers. The current study identifies barriers to seeking and accessing mental health services for members of the Nepali community in Vermont. Clients already on the waitlist were contacted by Connecting Cultures; a community mental health center serving refugees and New Americans. Potential clients were informed about the services offered by Connecting Cultures and were asked whether or not they were currently interested in receiving services. The feedback provided by potential clients is examined. Results show that potential clients reported less willingness to seek out services due to mental health stigma, cultural norms and lack of information about mental health. Ways in which mental health providers can work to reduce existing barriers to accessing mental health services in refugee communities will be discussed.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Karen Fondacaro

Secondary Mentor Name

Holly Weldon

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Psychological Science

Primary Research Category

Social Sciences

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Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Services in Refugees

A significant percentage of refugees and asylum seekers who resettle in other countries experience trauma and high levels of psychological distress. Despite elevated mental health symptoms, refugees are not likely to access needed mental health services. A number of variables impact the underutilization of mental health services by refugees and asylum seekers. The current study identifies barriers to seeking and accessing mental health services for members of the Nepali community in Vermont. Clients already on the waitlist were contacted by Connecting Cultures; a community mental health center serving refugees and New Americans. Potential clients were informed about the services offered by Connecting Cultures and were asked whether or not they were currently interested in receiving services. The feedback provided by potential clients is examined. Results show that potential clients reported less willingness to seek out services due to mental health stigma, cultural norms and lack of information about mental health. Ways in which mental health providers can work to reduce existing barriers to accessing mental health services in refugee communities will be discussed.