Section Editor; Founder & Chair, Refugee Mental Health Resource Network
THERE IS AN ONGOING NEED for mental health experts to work with refugees, immigrants, and internally displaced peoples (IDPs) which appears to be increasing over the past years, and more recently, as evidenced by conflicts arising in Afghanistan and Ukraine. The lack of an organized initiative to address this need was the impetus for the development of the Refugee Mental Health Resource Network (RMHRN), in 2016 as the Division 56 presidential initiative of Dr. Elizabeth Carll was expanded realizing that the success of the project would require a broader APA and international involvement and it was decided to apply for a CODAPAR grant which was approved in 2016 and implemented in 2017.
The grant facilitated the launch of the Network and underwriting the cost of developing the searchable database of volunteers and beginning the development of webinars to train psychologists. The webinars were important, as working with refugees, including asylum evaluations, were not areas of training in most universities.
This initial APA interdivisional grant was spearheaded by Division 56 (Trauma) and co-sponsored by Divisions 35, 52, and 55. In addition, other Divisions and some state psychological associations were also collaborating. In 2020, RMHRN, demonstrating sustainability over the previous 4 years, received another CODAPAR grant to be led by Division 52 (International) for 2021, in support of the RMHRN with Divisions 52, 56, 7, 35, 38 participating. The grant focused on further upgrading the database and expanding the international outreach of the Network. Currently there are more than 600 volunteers in the database consisting of licensed practitioners, researchers, and students.