World Refugee Awareness Month (June 2017)


The NCTSN invites you to join us in observing World Refugee Awareness Month and, on June 20th, World Refugee Awareness Day. In doing so, we focus on the millions of refugees who live around the globe, recognizing their plight as well as their valuable contributions to our communities.

Traumatized refugee children and their families must deal with their past traumatic experiences while integrating into a new and unfamiliar society. They must look for safety in an alien culture, and ask for help in a nonnative language. Children and their families who have experienced war-related trauma and disruption also suffer burdens associated with resettlement such as poverty, unemployment, stigmatization, and bias.

See below for a listing of helpful resources related to the needs of refugee children and families.

Page Contents:

Featured NCTSN Resources

Children of War: A Video for Educators
A powerful video presentation in which refugee youth tell their own stories about the experience of war. Recommended for educators and others who work with immigrant and refugee youth and children. Because the stories are deeply moving, the video is not recommended for students younger than high school age, and any presentation to youth should be handled with sensitivity and made only after the video has been previewed.

Children of War: A Resource Guide (PDF)
A guide to help educators teaching students of all ages understand the experience of refugee youth and children. Best used in a group setting. Includes discussion questions for educators, suggests ways teachers and schools can help refugee students, and describes the traumatic stress that can result from wartime experiences and resettlement in a new culture.

Culture and Trauma Brief (vol 1, no 1): Promoting Culturally Competent Trauma-informed Practices (2005) (PDF)
This three-page brief highlights the need for clinicians and policy makers to understand the links between trauma and culture. Cultural competence in trauma treatments and practices is conceptualized broadly, to encompass race, ethnicity, immigrant status, sexuality, urbanity and rurality, and disability.

Mental Health Interventions for Refugee Children in Resettlement: White Paper II (2005) (PDF)
Revisits and summarizes the research reported on in White Paper I on the mental health needs of refugee children. Discusses the need for a comprehensive mental health services approach for refugee children. Then focuses on exploring what a comprehensive mental health service model for refugees might look like, based on a review of literature for findings that support the value of specific approaches or techniques. Includes recommendations for next steps toward improving standards of mental health care for traumatized refugee children.

Review of Child and Adolescent Refugee Mental Health (2003) (PDF)
A white paper that broadens work done in previous reviews of refugee mental health by discussing the most recent empirical studies of pathology and services among refugees and by describing unique populations of child and adolescent refugees. These data, as well as treatments, are organized by phase of the refugee experience and contextualized in cultural and developmental frameworks. Adaptation and adjustment of refugees, with particular emphasis on coping and use of available resources, are also reviewed.

Refugee Trauma Webpage
Refugee Trauma webpages include general information about the refugee experience and refugee trauma, as well as fact sheets for individual services sectors (primary care, mental health, and schools) that provide guidance and resources related to working with refugee children and families. The webpages also include information related to refugee rights and support, in addition to numerous other resources.

Refugee Services Toolkit (2012)
A web-based toolkit to help service providers foster the mental health and general well-being of refugee children and families. The toolkit will help providers understand the experience of refugee children and families, identify the needs associated with their mental health, and ensure that they are connected with the most appropriate available interventions.

NCTSN Culture and Trauma Speaker Series: Trauma & Mental Health in Child and Adolescent Refugees (2007)
Heidi Ellis and Ruth Campbell discuss the special challenges and opportunities presented in working with traumatized refugee youth.

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For Educators

Amnesty International

Bridging Refugee Youth & Children's Services (BRYCS)

U.S. Department of Education, National Clearinghouse for ESL Literacy Education (NCELA)

  • Trauma and the Adult English Learner
    Focuses on how teachers can help refugee and immigrant learners make significant progress in adjusting to new life in an unfamiliar culture. Discusses qualities of mental health and stresses faced by refugees, and includes three things that teachers can do to help their students adjust.

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For Mental Health and Medical Professionals

APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration

  • Crossroads: The Psychology of Immigration in the New Century (2012)
    This evidence-based report addresses the psychological factors related to the experience of immigration, with particular attention to the mental and behavioral health needs of immigrants across the lifespan, and the effects of acculturation, prejudice/discrimination and immigration policy on individuals, families and society.

APA Task Force on the Psychosocial Effects of War on Children and Families Who Are Refugees from Armed Conflict Residing in the United States

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Immigrant and Refugee Health
    Provides information on medical examination of immigrants and refugees, refugee health guidelines, and laws and regulations.

The Center for Health Care and Health in Schools

The Center for Victims of Torture

The Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT)

  • Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ)
    A checklist that asks questions about a variety of trauma events as well as the emotional symptoms considered to be uniquely associated with trauma.

HealthReach, Health Information in Many Languages

  • HealthReach, Health Information in Many Languages is a national collaborative partnership managed by refugee health professionals whose objective is to provide quality multilingual, health information resources for those providing care to resettled refugees and asylees. 

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For Refugees

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
The mission of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans.

Office of Refugee Resettlement
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides new populations with the opportunity to maximize their potential in the United States. Their programs provide people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society. 

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For Social Service Providers/Community Agencies

  • A project of the Center for Victims of Torture, this website provides a wide range of resources to services providers, whether they work in law, mental health, medicine, or social services.

Bridging Refugee Youth & Children's Services (BRYCS)

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Children Services: Refugee Services National Partnership for Community Training 
Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services developed and provides comprehensive care for refugees, asylees, asylum seekers and survivors of torture and genocide by partnering with numerous organizations. They provide research, education, and training to expand the awareness and understanding of global conflict and migration.

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

  • Healthy Living Toolkit
    Designed to help in educating refugees and immigrants to become proactive health consumers and promoters in their communities. Supports health professionals, health promoters, ESL teachers, and resettlement case managers in assisting refugees and immigrants to navigate the health system to reduce health disparities among these populations. Material presented in a culturally appropriate manner. Available in eighteen languages.
  • Resource Guide for Serving Refugees with Disabilities
    A how-to for caseworkers and advocates who serve refugees to help improve access to services for newly arrived refugees with disabilities.

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