According to the United Nations, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror every minute. Historically the United States has accepted more refugees than all other countries combined, according to the Pew Research Center. And Texas has continued to be the top state that these individuals chose to settle.
With about one out of every three refugees experiencing high rates of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress, it’s no surprise that many nonprofits that serve refugees provide mental health counseling and group therapy for their clients.
The Foundation’s work intersects with refugees most directly in the areas of mental health and youth development. The mental health work of the Foundation focuses on counseling and therapeutic services that address anxiety and build resilience. The youth development focus of the Foundation seeks to provide youth with stable relationships and engaging activities from which to develop personal qualities and healthy habits. The Foundation supports three nonprofit organizations in Dallas that provide youth development and mental health services to children and adolescents that have come to North Texas to build a new life Their goal is to help those that settle in Texas adapt and thrive in their new home country.
A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.
For the Nations offers a wide variety of educational programs that help refugees continue in the long process of adapting to life in the US. FtN’s goals include teaching English, literacy and life skills, facilitating acculturation, connecting refugees with the community, and sharing the Christian faith.
WELCOME TEAMS | 10-15 volunteers are assigned to a new refugee family. The Welcome Team greets the family at the airport upon arrival, sets up their new apartment, and helps them through their first month in the US.
EMPLOYMENT SERVICES | Refugees are authorized to work in the US upon arrival. This program partners with local businesses and corporations to provide free job referrals. Once screened, refugees are matched to available jobs based on skills and previous work experience.
TRAUMA HEALING GROUPS | Small groups of three to 15 adults participate in trauma healing groups, which combine mental health principles with truths of the gospel. Participants learn about trauma and its effects, develop listening skills, and explore their own traumatic experiences.
LIFE SKILLS ASSISTANCE | This program helps refugees lead more independent lives in the US. The Family Services Team helps with tasks such as finding the grocery store, obtaining medical and dental care, sorting through important documents and mail, and advocating on their behalf when their voice is not heard.
ADDITIONAL ADULT SERVICES | English and literacy programs are offered to adults who want to become proficient English speakers or prepare for the GED and earn their high school diploma. For the Nations also helps with citizenship. After five years in the US, refugees are eligible to become US citizens. FtN teaches those who are eligible US history and civics to prepare them for the naturalization interview.
CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS | During the school-year, FtN provides tutoring for grades K through 8, help with homework, and preschool for children ages 3-4 during adult ESL classes. In the summer, For the Nations provides children with a reading program, educational field trips, swim lessons, and newcomer classes to prepare youth for public school. Counseling services are providing year-round.
Center for Survivors of Torture reports that 44 percent of refugees are either primary or secondary survivors of torture. CST’s goal is to assist survivors of torture and their families in the process of healing and recovery so that they can attend to their health, begin the recovery process, discover and build new support, and lead productive, meaningful, fulfilling lives.
CST provides culturally competent wraparound services to treat the whole client in the context of being an individual, a member of a family, a part of a culture, and a survivor of repeated trauma.
COUNSELING | Counseling services include evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Individual, group and family therapy sessions are provided free of charge. In therapy, clients can share their experiences in a safe environment with a licensed counselor who is there to support them as they strive to improve their lives. CST utilizes trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and solution-focused approaches.
MEDICAL CARE | CST provides diagnosis, treatment, pain reduction, wound care, physiotherapy and prescriptions for those with medical concerns.
SOCIAL SERVICES | Clients work with case managers to set and achieve goals in order to gain self-sufficiency. This can include obtaining access to ESL classes, securing stable housing, and accessing food and clothing.
TRAINING | CST trains mainstream licensed providers whose clientele may include refugees and immigrants, thus helping providers identify survivors, improve their skills, and provide strength-based, trauma-informed care. Additionally, CST provides education and workshops for refugee community leaders, attorneys, educators, physicians, and the immigrant community, on an ongoing basis.
CST’S ADAM PATRICK BRATCHER EDUCATION PROGRAM | CST found that many of their clients were underemployed. Through their APB Education Program, CST identifies cohorts of clients who want to pursue college or certificates. Staff then assist clients with the easy-entry program for acceptance into free community colleges or certification programs.
Heart House is an educational nonprofit that serves refugees children with a holistic after-school and summer program. The programming utilizes social emotional learning to help children thrive in their new community. Most of the children that Heart House serves have experienced trauma coming from war-torn or poverty-stricken lands.
Heart House provides a safe environment where students can study after school and in the summer. They use a holistic mental and behavioral health model that takes into account a child’s background and current emotional state. This social emotional learning approach has been proven to increase academic performance, improve mental health, and establish a pathway to success.
Programming, dubbed Heart House’s Head, Heart, and Hands (H3), is provided after school and during the summer for children living in Vickery Meadow, one of Dallas’ largest and most diverse refugee neighborhoods.
H3 FOR THE HEAD | Homework support and learning centers for reading, writing, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).
H3 FOR THE HEART | Trauma-informed enrichment activities including structured play and art therapy; mindful breathing techniques and mindful movement; interactive social-emotional learning activities to develop lifelong characteristics, such as resilience, persistence, and curiosity; and individual counseling services.
H3 FOR THE HANDS | Project-based and experiential learning opportunities including field trips, career days, community services projects, cultural potlucks, entrepreneurial experiences, and science fairs.
SUPPORT FOR PARENTS | Heart House offers opportunities for parenting support, acculturation techniques, and community events like neighborhood potlucks to promote community.