Tennessean Examines Group That Provides Mental Health Services to Immigrants, Refugees
The Tennessean on Monday examined mental health services for refugees living in Tennessee. Centerstone, a Nashville, Tenn.-based community mental health provider, and the Somali Community Center in 2004 received an HHS Office of Minority Health grant, which they used to jointly create a program aimed at providing mental health services to refugees. The grant expired at the end of December 2007. Under the program, immigrants and refugees received basic information about their new homes, as well as group therapy.
Richard Sapp, a refugee outreach specialist and counselor at Centerstone, said, "In this country, there are people who are unwilling or afraid to admit that they are in pain," "do not recognize they are in need of help" or are "unfamiliar with the very concept of mental health care."
The number of refugees receiving individual mental health services at Centerstone increased from 29 people in 2002 to 249 in 2006. With the end of the grant, Centerstone is looking into alternate funding, the Tennessean reports. While the group sessions have ended, Centerstone continues to provide no-cost individual care to 20 immigrants and refugees. As individuals qualify for public health insurance programs, new slots become available.
Sapp said, "We are health care providers. And where we sense there are needs, we certainly want to meet them any way we can" (Ross, Tennessean, 1/28).