Addressing Health Disparities in the Mental Health of Refugee Children and Adolescents Through Community-Based Participatory Research: A Study in 2 Communities

April 23, 2015

American Journal of Public Health

Objectives. We sought to understand the problems, strengths, and help seeking
behaviors of Somali Bantu and Bhutanese refugees and determine local
expressions of mental health problems among youths in both communities.
Methods. We used qualitative research methods to develop community needs
assessments and identify local terms for child mental health problems among
Somali Bantu and Bhutanese refugees in Greater Boston and Springfield,
Massachusetts, between 2011 and 2014. A total of 56 Somali Bantu and 93
Bhutanese refugees participated in free list and key informant interviews.
Results. Financial and language barriers impeded the abilities of families to
assist youths who were struggling academically and socially. Participants
identified resources both within and outside the refugee community to help
with these problems. Both communities identified areas of distress corresponding
to Western concepts of conduct disorders, depression, and anxiety.
Conclusions. There are numerous challenges faced by Somali Bantu and
Bhutanese youths, as well as strengths and resources that promote resilience.
Future steps include using culturally informed methods for identifying those in
need of services and developing community-based prevention programs. (Am J
Public Health. Published online ahead of print April 23, 2015: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/


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