USCRI Launches Afghan Behavioral Health Program

By USCRI February 15, 2023

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) has launched a comprehensive behavioral health program for newly resettled Afghans in the United States.

Through Office of Refugee Resettlement funding and in partnership with other organizations, USCRI Refugee Health Services is expanding access to an array of services across the country under a new post-resettlement behavioral health support program to help Afghans who received resettlement benefits under the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program.

“This holistic program will provide critical services to Afghans in distress,” USCRI’s Refugee Health Services Director Gursimran Grewal said. “This is a critical time for this population to access the care that they need.”

A 24/7 crisis hotline is now available nationally by calling 800-615-6514. Counseling is available on a need-to-need basis in English, Dari, and Pashto for Afghans.

Providers can also access a telehealth platform to enroll Afghan clients in primary and psychosocial care.

USCRI will have five on-site behavioral health teams in Washington, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania, which are states with either large numbers of resettled Afghans or with the highest need/underserved Afghans. For example, the behavioral health team in Florida launched last month—with the two Texas teams launching on February 13, 2023.

Additionally, a crisis response team will be able to provide immediate support to Afghan clients experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

“We want to meet Afghan clients where they’re at with their behavioral health needs—and believe this range of services and entry points will do so,” Grewal said.

Resettling in a new country often comes with stress, anxiety, and other challenges for refugees, immigrants, and other newcomer populations. This dynamic is particularly present for Afghans, who relocated to the United States after the Taliban’s violent return to power in August 2021. Afghans also remain rightfully stressed or concerned about the fate of their friends or family back in Afghanistan, where economic and societal conditions continue to deteriorate under the Taliban’s rule.

Despite heightened behavioral health needs in this and other newcomer populations, general practitioners are often ill-equipped to serve these clients with culturally appropriate and trauma-informed care.

Thus, the four program areas—the multilingual 24-hour helpline, telehealth services, community behavioral health teams, and the critical response team—were designed to address these gaps across the local, state, and national levels.

“USCRI hopes this new program breaks down barriers for Afghan newcomers to get the behavioral health care they want or need for themselves or their family members,” Grewal said.

For more information, please visit USCRI’s website for contact details, patient intake and referral forms, and other information on this program.

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