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Health Program News

Mental Health America Annual Conference Benefits San Diego Refugee Populations

Filed in Health Program News by on June 16, 2017

Nile Sisters Development Initiative ( NSDI ) staff participated in the Mental Health America ( MHA ) 2017 Annual Conference» in Washington, DC, from June 14 through June 16, 2017.

Traditionally, California has been the state with the largest refugee resettlement rate, and the County of San Diego boasts the largest refugee population in California. In 2016, NSDI conducted a mental-health roundtable discussion and two successive community dialogues with refugee and ethnic service providers in San Diego County. Since then, various stakeholders at local, state, and national levels have received the subsequent cumulative report, Advancing Equity».

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July Refugee and Ethnic Populations Health Convening

Filed in Event News, Health Program News by on June 9, 2017


Join NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative), in partnership with the Office of Minority Health Resource Center for a three-day workshop with sessions covering technical assistance and capacity building for board members and senior executives of health-oriented, ethnic community-based organizations (ECBOs) and training for African and immigrant community health workers.

This event has three purposes:

  • to provide evidence-based information to increase and strengthen the competence of ECBOs to provide culturally and linguistically proficient services to underserved minority populations
  • to build organizational development and engagement with mainstream health organizations, public policy, and other stakeholders
  • to promote collaboration and community building by refugee leaders and community members

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Mental Health Study: Refugee and Ethnic Focus Groups

Filed in Health Program News by on June 7, 2017

In May 2017, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) began research by conducting a series of focus groups among diverse refugee and ethnic populations in San Diego County (Central Region). The focus groups will assess mental health knowledge, attitudes, and help-seeking behaviors. Central Region has a long history of welcoming diverse refugees, dating back to the initial Vietnamese arrivals in the 1970s.

This research study, approved the University of Southern California (USC), Institutional Review Board (IRB), is the first of its kind to be conducted in the San Diego region. NSDI and USC Center for Health Equity in the Americas are jointly sponsoring the study of 40 adult refugees / asylees / asylum seekers resettled in San Diego County. Upon completion, NSDI will publish a compilation of research findings.

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New Refugee and Ethnic Mental Health Coalition

Filed in Health Program News by on June 6, 2017

Illustration of a tree as metaphor of mental health.

Mental health is widely acknowledged as a priority health issue across refugee community members and stakeholders in San Diego County. On October 5, 2016, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) convened ethnic and faith leaders from the refugee community for a roundtable discussion. The purpose was to better understand concerns and discuss potential steps for collective action.

On October 17 and November 18, 2016, follow-up community dialogues gathered more than 37 representatives from 15 organizations. The participants discussed promising practices, evidence-based interventions, and recommendations to improve mental health knowledge, awareness, and utilization of services. A compilation of the findings, Advancing Equity: Refugee and Ethnic Mental Health», is available free of charge to the public.

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Mental Health Advocates for Refugee and Ethnic Communities

Filed in Health Program News by on June 1, 2017

Illustration of a tree as metaphor of mental health.

On May 31, 2017, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) submitted a letter», collectively signed by 60 community advocates, to Mr. Nick Macchione, MS, MPH, FACHE, Director of County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). Signatories included business and faith-based entities, community and / or nonprofit organizations, healthcare professionals, mental and behavioral health providers, resettlement agencies and / or international entities, as well as community leaders and / or members. The letter details the status of mental and behavioral health of refugee and ethnic communities from the perspectives of refugees, asylees, asylum seekers, ethnic service providers, and like-minded stakeholders.

In 2016, NSDI conducted one round-table meeting and two community dialogues» with various entities to address the mental and behavioral needs and associated socio-economic concerns of underserved communities.

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Mental Health Matters Day at State Capitol

Filed in Event News, Health Program News by on May 24, 2017

On May 24, 2017, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) participated in a Mental Health Matters Day celebration at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Mental Health America of California hosted the event, themed Building Momentum and Strength Together, a pledge that is particularly desirable from the perspective of refugee and ethnic populations. Among publications that NSDI staff made available to the public was Advancing Equity: Refugee and Ethnic Mental Health.»

View event photos.»

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Type 2 Diabetes Survey of Community Stakeholders and Health Practitioners to Begin

Filed in Health Program News by on May 13, 2017

Type 2, Not You! wordmark

According to the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) are brought on by three behaviors that lead to four diseases that cause more than 50% of deaths in the region. Through Type 2, Not You! NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) is raising awareness about this epidemic in refugee and immigrant communities. Numerous priority populations for Type 2, Not You!, including speakers of Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Creole, Somali, and Swahili, are heavily burdened by T2D and common co-morbidities, such as CVD (cardiovascular disease), depression, hypertension, and obesity.

In May 2017, NSDI will begin conducting T2D surveys with at least 50 community stakeholders and health practitioners to develop better understanding of perceptions of type 2 diabetes by refugee and ethnic populations, as well as by medical and public health practitioners. Type 2, Not You! aims to ensure that these primary populations have equal access to primary prevention methods in San Diego County.

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Office of Minority Health Resource Center Awards Grant to Nile Sisters

Filed in Donor News, Health Program News by on May 11, 2017

Office of Minority Health resource Center logo

Mental-health conditions are considered priority health concerns among newly arriving and existing refugee and ethnic populations. Statewide, one such condition, dependency syndrome, is one of five top mental illnesses that disproportionately burden refugees.

Recently, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) received a mini-grant from the Office of Minority Health Resource Center» in order to develop mental-health resources for black and ethnic populations. Through the Harambee Project, NSDI aims to increase access to evidence-based educational materials and culturally sensitive mental- and behavioral-health resources available to black and ethnic populations, as well as to lay health workers and medical practitioners.

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Nile Sisters Focuses on Refugee and Ethnic Mental Health Throughout May

Filed in Event News, Health Program News by on May 11, 2017

Conceptual illustration of a tree as metaphor of mental illness versus mental health

Since 1949, the US has designated the month of May as national Mental Health Month». Throughout the month, events such as Mental Health Matters Day: Building Momentum and Strength Together» provide opportunities for the mental-health community and other stakeholders to raise awareness and understanding of mental health conditions in order to reduce stigma, educate the public, and advocate for affected individuals / communities. NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) is proud to join this long-standing tradition on behalf of refugee and ethnic populations.

In October 2016, NSDI conducted a community round-table discussion» of the mental and behavioral health needs of refugee and immigrant communities in San Diego County. Two subsequent community dialogues» convened to discuss the themes that emerged from the initial round table.

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City Heights Workshop Finds Barriers to Refugee Oral Healthcare

Filed in Health Program News by on January 27, 2017

On January 27, 2017, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI) hosted an oral healthcare workshop for members of the City Heights refugee and immigrant community. Through this workshop, NSDI was able to better understand the challenges that refugees and immigrants face when seeking dental care and to identify opportunities to improve access to dental providers.

In 2014, the California Department of Public Health reported that the primary preventable health condition among newly settled refugees is dental caries. Failure to receive preventive care can result from a host of factors, including limited English proficiency and economic and/or cultural barriers.

The NSDI Refugee Oral Health Initiative (ROHI) previously determined that language continues to be one of the greatest barriers for refugees and immigrants when accessing dental and general healthcare services. In one particular case study, the only Burmese dentist in the San Diego community had retired, leaving many with no Burmese-speaking dentist to visit for regular dental check-ups. Not many dental providers offer translational services or speak the refugees’ native language, and the ones that do often have long wait times for appointments. For example, one workshop participant stated that he had to wait up to 40 days for an appointment opening with a provider who speaks his language. Approximately 81% of refugees in attendance also reported that they would go to the dentist more often if more offices had staff that spoke their native tongue.

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