The Salamati Rohi (روح سالمتی) Program aims to build the resilience of people forcibly displaced from Afghanistan by focusing on wellness of the body, mind, and spirit.
Housed under the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) Program in the IRC Denver office, the Salamati Rohi Program is led by our MHPSS Program Coordinator, Cherisse Davis, and Mental Health Specialist, Masooma Sadeqi, who just joined the IRC in Denver. Read below to learn more about the Salamati Rohi Program and for a Q&A with Cherisse and Masooma.
What is Salamati Rohi?
Salamati Rohi is a wellness program to help Afghans with the stress caused by fleeing their homes and the associated trauma, grief, and loss that comes with these challenges. The phrase “Salamati Rohi” means “health/wellness of the spirit”, and the program was named this to encompass all areas of health: emotional, mental, and social. Salamati Rohi focuses on holistic wellness and on many other factors that improve resiliency, not just mental health. The program uses an intervention called Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) that was designed for individuals affected by a traumatic incident. The goal is to improve resiliency of our Afghan community by helping them learn healthy coping skills, manage difficult memories, and empower them in problem solving current challenges.
How do Masooma and Cherisse support the Salamati Rohi program?
As the program's Mental Health Specialist, Masooma will be meeting individually with clients who want her support. Masooma was a mental health clinician in Afghanistan, and she is absolutely in the right place at the right time to now support the Afghan community in the Denver metro area. She meets with individuals and families and joins Cherisse in leading program groups together. Using SPR, Cherisse and Masooma focus on five skill areas:
- Enhancing problem solving skills
- Promoting positive activities
- Increasing ability to manage reactions/trauma triggers
- Foster helpful thinking
- Encourage healthy social connections.
As the Coordinator, Cherisse supports Masooma in her role and responds when IRC clients are dealing with mental health crisis or situations where they are either unsafe to themselves or others. She also coordinates referrals to mental health treatment and other community resources that may be beneficial.
How many Afghans does Salamati Rohi currently serve?
Cherisse and Masooma have received 38 referrals to the program so far! Referrals have been made since early April, but the Salamati Rohi program was just established in June this year.
Cherisse & Masooma Q&A
How do you envision the lives of Afghan refugees improving with their participation in the Salamati Rohi program?
We hope to see clients empowered, resilient, and doing well in their new home in Colorado. We also know that, by improving clients’ mental and emotional wellness, we can also help them reach other goals they have related to resettlement, like learning English or getting a new job!
What is one thing about the Afghan community that you want others to know?
Afghans are incredibly hospitable – any time you visit their home, you will be served green tea with a tray of sweets or nuts. They recognize that connection, community, and time spent together is important, and building a home should mean knowing your neighbors. We often don't emphasize community in the same way in Western culture.
Can you share a story about a client that reminds you of the importance of the Salamati Rohi program?
At a community event with some Afghan women, we were sharing how deep breathing can be used as a coping skill. While the group was a little skeptical about the benefits of deep breathing, one woman excitedly chimed in that she had learned deep breathing at her job at an elementary school. Then, she shared with the group about how it has been helpful for her. It was a reminder of the ripple effects of even supporting one person with the tools Salamati Rohi provides!
How can people support the Salamati Rohi program and Afghan community here in Colorado?
Because community and connection are so important for Afghans, consider volunteering as a family mentor! The gift of your time speaks volumes and your knowledge of resources in the community is incredibly valuable. If we as a community in Colorado can support our Afghan neighbors, we will see them flourish. There is an Afghan proverb that says, “Heart to heart, there is a way” – meaning that if we work together, we can succeed together. If we come together for our new Afghan neighbors, then I know that “there is a way” for them here in Colorado.