Grant Awarded to Support Mental Health Access
The Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation recently awarded the IRC in Baltimore $20,000 to support increased access to mental health support for refugee youth and adults. The grant will help cover the costs of professional counselors, interpreters, and specialized mental health interpreter trainings.
Through partnerships with Johns Hopkins Bayview Community Psychiatry, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Immigrant Health, and independent counselors, the IRC in Baltimore’s Public Health and Youth programs have helped to ease barriers for those receiving well-being and mental health services by connecting refugees to culturally-sensitive counselors. The IRC has worked with these partners to establish an approach to mental healthcare tailored to refugee needs and which builds upon their resiliency. Thanks to these collaborations, youth and adults can access adjustment support groups which help them learn healthy ways to cope with the stress of adjusting to life in the U.S., or, if needed, individual counseling.
One unique method used with refugee youth is called sand tray therapy. In these adjustment support groups, youth are provided with small objects and toys that they use to create a scene within their sand tray depicting anything they want.
“The sand tray activities allow children to express and process feelings and ideas that they often have difficulty expressing otherwise with words – both in English and their native language,” says Matt Schultz, IRC Youth Program Manager. “It is amazing to watch the evolution of those feelings and ideas that begin as seemingly chaotic placements of figurines in the sand and then gradually become more emotionally and cognitively organized and calm expressions in the sand tray.”