Helping the Resettlement of Afghan Refugees

Our Afghan allies need help.

PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS

As usual with our general media news, often a crisis is followed by silence. Such seems to have been the case with our withdrawal from Afghanistan, but some news is now emerging. While many Afghan allies were not able to leave, many did and are currently at various sites in the United States awaiting further placement. One is at Fort McCoy in my state of Wisconsin. It is the biggest refugee resettlement process since the Vietnam War. Estimates suggest over 100,000 will come to the US in the next few weeks.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, a call has gone out from the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers for help with the mental health needs for a week or 2 at a time. The designated help needed includes: prescribers; sexual assault, child, and suicide prevention specialists; and anyone who speaks Pashto or Dari, though interpreters are available. I would add general cultural competence, curiosity, and humility. A report in yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also conveyed that a group of Afghan women refugees requested more trauma-based care. We know that the expression of trauma can be delayed, so our help will likely be needed indefinitely for now. Already, I know of colleagues that are on their way to volunteer at Fort McCoy.

This is an opportunity to help with the second part of the evacuation process, provide some social health care justice, and pay back our Afghan allies for their help in their country.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.