Clients work on a journal project at the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative office in Southeast Philadelphia
Clients work on a journal project at the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative office in Southeast Philadelphia.

Liberty is committed to providing refugees with hope for a new life in Pennsylvania. Our resettlement services are designed to create a smooth transition to life in the local community and to promote economic self-sufficiency. Among the many ways we help newcomers is through the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative. Led by Liberty’s Lutheran Children and Family Service division, The Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative is a group of resettlement agencies, mental health providers, physicians and arts organizations working to link refugees to culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health care.

ESL Class
ESL Class

“Many refugees arrive with significant past traumas and struggle throughout their resettlement experience with isolation, personal identity, bullying and discrimination and another issues,” said Melissa Fogg, Immigrant Mental Health Specialist, Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative. “The need for holistic, person-center wellness programs provided by the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative has never been greater.”

This valuable community resource will continue for at least the next three years due to a $200,000 grant from the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services (DBHIDS.)

A cross-generational knitting lesson
A cross-generational knitting lesson

Southeast Philadelphia is home to approximately 800 newly-arrived refugees, largely Chin Burmese, Karen Burmese, Nepali Bhutanese, Iraqis and Congolese, who have been resettled by Liberty’s LCFS, as well as partner agencies Nationalities Service Center and HIAS Pennsylvania. Since its inception in 2011 with funding from DBHIDS and the Pew Charitable Trust, the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative has used a multidisciplinary, trauma-informed approach to help families process past exposure to violence and current resettlement stress through therapy, support groups and community-building arts projects. Clients also have access to ESL (English as a second language) classes, life skills lessons, mentorship programs and afterschool programming. Over the next three years, the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative will continue providing these services and work to further build community-based prevention and early intervention services for refugee children, youth and their families in Southeast Philadelphia.

“The Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative’s vision is to ensure that all refugees have access to quality mental health support,” Fogg said. “Thanks to the DBHIDS funding, our work with partner agencies and the community ensures a safe, accessible, community-centered program for local refugees in need.”

The Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative is comprised of the following partner agencies:

  • Lutheran Children and Family Service (Lead Agency)
  • HIAS Pennsylvania
  • Nationalities Service Center
  • The Intergenerational Center, Temple University
  • BuildaBridge International
  • Nemours Pediatrics
  • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment

 

Founded in 1922, Liberty’s Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) offers a diverse array of integrated, community-based services which enable to the most vulnerable individuals to overcome barriers for participation in a more just and peaceful world. Its broad scope of programs include, but are not limited to: foster care, adoption, family preservation and reunification, BOOST out of school time and high school WorkReady programs, the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, refugee resettlement and employment services, immigration legal assistance, and refugee behavioral health programming. As a leading human services provider in the Greater Philadelphia region, LCFS serves over 10,000 individuals each year.

 

 

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