Raising up Hope
The Dallas IRC Mental Health program was founded by two volunteers in 2016. The program now consists of five paid staff offering free mental health services to refugees and asylum seekers in the DFW area. Since the program’s inception, it has grown from serving 20 clients in its first year to 250 clients in FY22. Through practicum placements with universities from across the country, our program provides free screening and assessments, asylum evaluations, individual counseling, group therapy, mental health literacy, basic psychoeducation, psychiatric consultation, and medication management. Seventy-five students have been placed in the Mental Health Program over the last six years from Social Work, Psychology, and Psychiatry Field practicum programs. Clinical services include overall mental health care coordination with interpreters and cultural brokers to help accommodate language and culture barriers. Collaboration is done with an interdisciplinary team, and case managers to provide integrative comprehensive care. With the help of our amazing team and our interns/residents we have been able to provide psychoeducation, clinical therapeutic services, and psychiatry services at no cost to our clients. We are excited to continue to grow and develop our team and program to meet the needs of IRC’s staff and the amazing communities we serve!
Indeed, the Mental Health Program is raising up hope for our clients in their transition to their new homes after coming out from persecution. The program meets the needs of the refugee, asylum, and immigrant communities by examining all the challenges our clients are facing once they arrive here in the U.S. On their arrival, clients are very excited to their new place; excited and happy they are no longer being persecuted again; excited that they will sleep peaceful with no harm. In the long run, after 3 months from arrival, clients start experiencing anxiety in their new environment. The MHP comes alongside clients to help them integrate into new culture in the United States, helping them understand and further adapt. The program is also helping families learn how to resolve conflict between traditional culture and host culture.
We aspire to help clients regain their dignity and hope for their future. At the IRC, we stand for mental health and believe it should be valued, promote, and protected so that everyone can have equal access to care and services as much as they need.
--written by Bernadette Musekura, MHP Interpreter/Cultural Broker