Refugee Mental Health Workshop Follow Up

The UI College of Public Health, UI Human Rights Center, Linn County Public Health and Johnson County Public Health, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services, Bureau of Refugee Services, hosted a workshop in June 2019 titled:

Enhancing mental health and psychosocial support for refugee families in Iowa: What providers need to know and do


College of Public Health Black Logo
Linn County Department of Public Health Logo
Johnson County Public Health Logo
Center for Human Rights Logo


Follow-up Resource List

Workshop Resources


Cedar Rapids

Iowa City

CLAS Standards

Other Resources

  • mhGAP Intervention Guide
    Description: “The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims at scaling up services for mental, neurological and substance use disorders. The mhGAP Intervention Guide (mhGAP-IG) for mental, neurological and substance use disorders for non-specialist health settings, is a technical tool developed by WHO to assist in implementation of mhGAP.”
    Available in English, French, Marathi, Russian, Spanish.
  • Task shifting: global recommendations and guidelines
    Description: “Task shifting is the name now given to a process whereby specific tasks are moved, where
    appropriate, to health workers with shorter training and fewer qualifications. By reorganizing the
    workforce in this way, task shifting can make more efficient use of existing human resources and
    ease bottlenecks in service delivery.”
    Available in English.
  • Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers
    Description: “This guide covers psychological first aid which involves humane, supportive and practical help to fellow human beings suffering serious crisis events. It is written for people in a position to help others who have experienced an extremely distressing event. It gives a framework for supporting people in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities.”
    Available in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Hindi, Italian, Kiswahili, Korean, Myanmar, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Sinhala, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu.
  • Psychological first aid: facilitator’s manual for orienting field workers
    Description. This manual is designed to orient helpers to offer psychological first aid (PFA) to people following a serious crisis event. PFA involves humane, supportive and practical assistance for people who are distressed, in ways that respect their dignity, culture and abilities. This facilitator’s manual is to be used together with the Psychological first aid: Guide for field workers (World Health Organization, War Trauma Foundation, World Vision International, 2011).
    Available in Chinese, English, Greek, Ukrainian.
  • Friendship Bench Training Manual for Health Promoters  (click on tools, and request the manual)
    Description: “The Friendship Bench project is an evidence-based intervention developed in Zimbabwe to bridge the mental health treatment gap. Our mission is to enhance mental well-being and improve quality of life through the use of problem solving therapy delivered by trained lay health workers. We focus on people who are suffering from common mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression.”

June 2019 Workshop Details

Workshop objectives

The purpose of this workshop is to enhance the mental health knowledge and skills of providers of care for refugees in Eastern Iowa.

The learner will:

  1. Enhance knowledge of health providers of the
    1. key evidence of the prevalence, and main causes/determinants as well as protective factors, of refugee psychological and emotional distress
    2. facilitators and barriers to effective treatment including cultural and personal biases of providers and of ‘clients’, and National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS)
  2. Strengthen the capacity of health providers to
    1. identify mental health needs of refugees – using effective communication
    2. partner with clients to develop appropriate care plans and provide culturally-informed and evidence based mental/psychological health care

Intended audience

All providers of services to refugee populations in Eastern Iowa.


No cost for participants attending this workshop.

Workshop dates

Iowa City workshop:

  • Time: 2 to 6 p.m.
  • Date: Tuesday, June 4
  • Place: Room 203, Health and Human Services Building, 855 S. Dubuque St.
  • Parking: Free parking is available in the lot and ramp in front of the Health and Human Services building (but is slightly limited due to construction). Participants may also park across the street in the Administration Building lot and can cross over to the Health and Human Services building via skywalk.
  • Room Directions: The meeting room is located on the second floor. Participants should go in the Northwest door, located near a flagpole, and then take the elevator to the second floor. Signs in the hallway will direct participants to the correct room.

Cedar Rapids workshop:

  • Time: 2 to 6 p.m.
  • Date: Wednesday, June 5
  • Place: Physician’s Clinic of Iowa (PCI) Community Room, 202 10th St. S.E.
  • Parking: All parking and valet services for PCI Medical Pavilion are free! The Parking Structure is located on the corner of 10th Street and 2nd Avenue.
  • Room Directions: Take the skywalk, which is located on Level 3 of the parking structure, into the PCI Medical Pavilion. Use the elevator, go up one floor and turn to the right for the community room.

Refreshments will be provided.

Workshop lead facilitator

Dr. Brandon Kohrt, MD, PhD

Bio of speaker

Brandon Kohrt, MD, PhD, is the Charles and Sonia Akman Professor in Global Psychiatry, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Global Health, and Anthropology at George Washington University.

Portrait of Dr. Brandon Kohrt of George Washington University

As an internationally recognized global mental health expert, he works with populations affected by war-related trauma, torture, environmental disasters, and chronic stressors of poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to healthcare.

Dr. Kohrt has worked in Nepal since 1996 and has been advisor to Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) Nepal since 2006. He has collaborated with The Carter Center Mental Health Program in Liberia since 2010. He has investigated the mental health consequences of and designed interventions for child soldiers and earthquake survivors in Nepal. He collaborated on development of a Nepali school-based youth suicide prevention program.

In Liberia, he designed programs to reduce stigma among youth and adults impacted by mental illness, political violence, and the Ebola virus outbreak, and co-designed a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program for police officers.

He has collaborated on interventions for children with Nodding Syndrome in Uganda and children affected by HIV and political violence in Nigeria. In addition, he has worked in Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Haiti and India.

Dr. Kohrt has published over 140 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. He co-edited the book Global Mental Health: Anthropological Perspectives, which was honored with the creative scholarship award of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture.

He has received research funding from NIMH, Grand Challenges Canada, UNICEF, the Fulbright Program, HopeLab, and the Jacobs Foundation. His clinical work addresses cross-cultural psychiatry specializing in refugees and immigrant populations. He founded the Atlanta Asylum Network for Torture Survivors and consults on suicide prevention programs for Bhutanese Nepali refugees. Dr. Kohrt has developed a global mental health training program in Nepal for students in medicine, public health, and anthropology.

Continuing education

Nursing Continuing Education: Four contact hours as provided by Mount Mercy University, IBN Approved Provider #77.

Medical CME: The Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation is accredited by the Iowa Medical Society (IMS) to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation designates this educational activity for a maximum of 4 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ for each conference attended. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with their participation in the activity.

Continuing Education is available for Social Workers

Conflict of Interest Disclosure: As a sponsor accredited by the Iowa Medical Society, the Cedar Rapids Medical Education Program must assure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor in all its individually sponsored or jointly sponsored educational activities. All faculty participating in a sponsored activity are expected to disclose to the activity audience any significant financial interest or other relationship (1) with the manufacturer(s) of any commercial product(s) and/or provider(s) of commercial services discussed in an educational presentation and (2) with any commercial supporters of the activity (significant financial  interest or other relationship can include such things as grants, or research  support, employee, consultant, major stock holder, member of speakers bureau, etc.) The intent of this disclosure is not to prevent a speaker with a significant financial or other relationship from making a presentation, but rather to provide listeners with information on which they can make their own judgments. It remains for the audience to determine whether the speaker’s interests or relationship may influence the presentation with regard to exposition or conclusion. Disclosure forms for each presenter are on file in the CME office. DURING PRESENTATIONS THERE ARE OCCASIONALLY DISCUSSIONS OF UNAPPROVED USE OF FDA APPROVED DRUGS, DEVICES OR TREATMENTS. THIS MUST BE DISCLOSED TO THE AUDIENCE DURING THE LECTURE.

Iowa Medical Society Logo

Dr. Brandon Kohrt does not have any relevant financial interest with any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by or used on patients, this does not include providers of clinical services directly to patients.

Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation Logo

Joint provider by Cedar Rapids Medical Education Foundation