Refugee Mental Health Panel

Posted on October 3rd, 2018 by

On September 25th 2018, Community Mental Health students in the Department of Psychological Science opened their classroom to Gustavus campus members, inviting them to a panel titled, “Mental Health and the Refugee Experience.” Kawthar Abdi, Community Health Worker with VINE – Mankato, Mohamed Ibrahim, Health Literacy and Community Health Worker with Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) – Mankato, and Margo Druschel, Associate Director of MCC Refugee Services – Mankato spoke  about the experiences of individuals with refugee status in our local community. They described how the process of immigration, living in refugee camps and resettling in the United States, can adversely impact mental health, especially with previous traumatic experiences such as war, sexual assault, torture and loss of loved ones. Along with helping their mainly Somali clients negotiate housing, employment, education and health organizations, these community health workers serve as interpreters and crucial liaisons between families and the Mankato and St. Peter communities. Margo Druschel (whom you may recognize as former Gustavus CARE Director), emphasized that within 10-years of arriving in the U.S., most individuals with refugee status have successfully negotiated the transition to living in the U.S., obtaining careers, and becoming taxpayers, homeowners and community supporters.

photo by Fengxi Sun


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