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Health Program News

Input Wanted for Regional Conference on Refugee / Ethnic Immigrant Health

Filed in Health Program News by on June 21, 2017

California is the largest refugee resettlement state in the United States. Since 1975, approximately 700,000 refugees have been resettled in California, excluding select individuals, such as Cuban / Haitian entrants and special immigration visa (SIV) holders. Many refugee and ethnic populations, especially newly arrived immigrants, are burdened with preventable health conditions that, often, impede successful integration into host communities and hamper the abilities of refugee and ethnic populations to thrive.

In 2018, Nile Sisters Development Initiative (NSDI), in partnership with the US Office of Minority Health, will host the Western Regional Conference on Refugee and Ethnic Immigrant Health. This conference will be an extension of the US Conference on African Immigrant Health, held annually in different parts of the country.

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First Refugee Mental Health Coalition Meeting

Filed in Health Program News by on June 20, 2017

In 2016, NSDI (Nile Sisters Development Initiative) began a community-driven project to improve the mental health and psychosocial well-being of San Diego’s refugee and ethnic populations. Between October and November 2016, a series of community conversations with community leaders and regional refugee-serving organizations took place. Of those who completed an evaluation distributed during the conversations, 100% valued the importance of meeting regularly, prompting the decision to meet on a quarterly basis thoughout 2017.

The new refugee mental health coalition first met on Friday, June 9, 2017, from 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Copley-Price Family YMCA, located at 4300 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92105. A total of 15 agencies and organizations gathered to discuss next steps. Guest speaker Senait Admassu, MSW, who serves as the executive director of the African Communities Public Health Coalition (ACPHC) covered the health promotion and outreach strategies employed to overcome shame and stigma associated with mental illness within refugee communities from the African diaspora. She also emphasized the importance of building trust and inspiring community engagement and leadership. Ms. Admassu brings more than eight years of in-community work experience with both nonprofit and public mental health programs. Her current employer, ACPHC, has spearheaded progress in the acknowledgement and delivery of culturally and linguistically sensitive mental health resources to the African refugee and immigrant communities in Los Angeles.

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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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