Immigrants & Refugees Locally
Immigrants and refugees often come from cultures where mental health is not openly discussed. Although many may have experienced mental health difficulties, they often do not have the language to express them, the knowledge of how to manage them, or the familiarity with treatment providers in the larger community. In addition, in many immigrant communities, seeking professional support for mental health difficulties is uncommon.
Our training model is designed to work within the pre-existing structures of help-seeking in immigrant and refugee communities. While we help community members connect to relevant resources in the community, our primary objective is to build capacity within the community members themselves, those people to whom others are likely to go for help. Our core curriculum contains training in basic listening skills, stress management, and trauma. However, we hold focus groups with community members prior to starting training to get feedback on topics most relevant to their community.
Dr. Vredeveld worked with Bhutanese refugees in Cincinnati on stress management and domestic violence awareness training. This program was funded by the Asian Community Alliance and is part of their Project HOPE initiative.
Approximately 30 Bhutanese community leaders were trained in stress management, assertive communication, and domestic violence, trainings designed by Dr. Vredeveld and delivered by Dr. Vredeveld and Bhutanese community liaisons Bashu Khanal, Sangita Pokwal, and Lal Moktan. Community leaders also met with representatives of local social service organizations to learn about resources available in the Cincinnati area. Community leaders then presented this information via a Health & Wellness Day in May of 2016, pictured below.
As part of Asian Community Alliance’s Project HOPE, Dr. Vredeveld also worked with Asian-American students at local universities. Students were trained in basic listening and communication skills and learned how to become advocates against sexual assault in their social groups and larger communities.
Legal Rights Training
We have also worked with Officer Longworth, Immigrant Affairs Liaison at the Cincinnati Police Department, to provide legal rights and safety training to immigrants and refugees. Training workshops involve learning the basics of law enforcement in the US, understanding one’s legal rights, and practicing how to assert those rights in conflict situations. Given that many immigrants and refugees have had negative experiences with law enforcement in their home countries, workshops also involve a discussion of trauma and managing anxiety when interacting with law enforcement.
We also provide online training in basic listening skills, stress management, and trauma. Like the local training we do, our online training is intended for community leaders or health workers who provide mental health support within their professions. Dr. Vredeveld has provided online training to counselors at an acid attack rehabilitation center in Uganda, staff members at a NGO serving refugees in Uganda, and counselors at a sex-trafficking aftercare center in India.
Dr. Vredeveld is also a member of the Global Psychosocial Network (GPN), an international network of professionals who provide psychosocial support for professionals and volunteers engaged in humanitarian, organizational, and activist work in conflict and disaster zones. GPN is an initiative of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), an independent, non-profit organization that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability.
Dr. Vredeveld has also provided mental health training for nonprofit and healthcare organizations in developing countries. She has provided in-person training on basic counseling skills, trauma, and substance abuse in South Africa, Rwanda, and Uganda. She primarily uses an interpersonal approach, teaching others how healthier communication styles can lead to better conflict management and stress reduction.