Social workers face new challenges as they serve North Carolina’s refugee and immigrant populations. For example, refugees experience high rates of chronic physical illnesses, mental illnesses and substance use disorder.
Clinical assistant professor Josh Hinson is leading the UNC Refugee Mental Health and Wellness Initiative, which addresses the lack of mental health services for refugees in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. In 2016, UNC presented Josh with the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Award for his work.
The initiative provides real-world opportunities for MSW students and community partners to collaborate in providing mental health services for refugee populations. As an MSW student, Alice Keyes ’17 worked with the initiative, compiling data on the extent of refugees’ mental health needs and the effectiveness of treatments.
Alice explained, “I’m privileged in what I’ve been able to do in my life — I just want to give back and use my time for something that matters to me, [to help those] who are so often pushed aside and disempowered.”