The Cultural Adjustment and Mental Health of African Refugees in the United States
Englund, Katherine M. “The Cultural Adjustment and Mental Health of African Refugees in the United States”, Boston College, 2008. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/571.
Social service delivery to refugees in the United States may vary depending on the different cultural and historical backgrounds that people bring with them to the resettlement process. The Kunama ethnic group from Eritrea, who fled their country for refugee camps in Ethiopia, provide a particularly challenging case as they most often have limited English-language skills, no employment experience outside of farming and herding, and a complex political history. This study contributes to the knowledge base of refugee resettlement and adjustment into the U.S. To gain an understanding of challenges faced by refugees as they settle in the U.S., two Kunama refugees from Boston were interviewed to provide their own stories. In addition, a literature review of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Kunama culture, and the refugee situation was conducted. The findings are included. The Kunama in the U.S. are faced with the challenges of finding jobs to become economically self-sufficient, limited access to furthering their education, language barriers in health care, and learning to navigate the American environment and way of life. Culturally sensitive and informed social services are vital sources of support for equipping the Kunama and other refugees with transitional help in each of these areas, particularly in maintaining physical protection, well-being, and guarding against potential mental health problems.