Evaluating the Mental Health Training Needs of Community-based Organizations Serving Refugees

  • Jennifer Anne Simmelink University of Minnesota School of Social Work
  • Patricia Shannon University of Minnesota School of Social Work
Keywords: Refugees, community based organizations, mental health training, ethnic organizations


This exploratory study examines the mental health knowledge and training needs of refugee-serving community based organizations in a Midwestern state. A survey was administered to 31 staff members at 27 community based organizations (CBOs) to assess the ability of staff to recognize and screen for mental health symptoms that may interfere with successful resettlement. Of the 31 respondents 93.5% (n=29) see refugees with mental health issues and 48.4% (n=15) assess refugees for mental health symptoms – primarily through informal assessment. Mainstream organizations were more likely than ethnic organizations to have received training related to the mental health needs of refugees. Results indicate that while refugee led CBOs recognize mental health symptoms of refugees they may be less likely to assess mental health symptoms and refer for treatment. Policy recommendations for improving CBO services to refugees are offered.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Anne Simmelink, University of Minnesota School of Social Work
Doctoral Candidate
Patricia Shannon, University of Minnesota School of Social Work
Ph.D., L.P. Assistant Professor