8/7/18 – Priyanka, Mahmod, and Scott are three students in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program working to understand how to intervene in the global refugee crisis. Specifically in regards to caring for those who have experienced trauma, there is a huge opportunity to improve outcomes for these populations.
There are now more than 65 million people globally who have been forcibly displaced from their homes; this is the highest number in recorded human history. These people who are fleeing violence, famine, and persecution face a myriad of challenges and threats to their health and wellbeing. Many organizations are providing assistance and support, but often this aid is limited to baseline physiological and safety needs. Refugees are provided with shelter, food, and possibly medical care, but their mental, emotional, spiritual, and social health are often neglected due to the sheer scale of the need. Many asylum seekers experience significant amounts of trauma from situations that have caused them to leave their through the process of fleeing their homes, and in seeking refuge in other countries. Trauma can result in numerous deleterious effects on the lives and wellbeing of these people. Increased levels of alcoholism, drug abuse, incarceration, suicide attempts, obesity, sexually transmitted diseases, heart disease, cancer, and premature death are all potential adverse outcomes of trauma. These outcomes carry enormous economic, social, and health costs for our society.
There is good news however. Trauma informed care practices have shown the possibility to reduce the impact of trauma on people’s lives. In fact, it is possible to experience what is being called Post Traumatic Growth after undergoing a traumatic event. The advances in our understanding of neuroscience, brain chemistry, positive psychology, and sociology present an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to harness these insights and methods in targeted ways to prevent the myriad of health risks experienced by the traumatized in our world, to assist them in living lives of wholeness and health, and to interrupt the cycles of violence and trauma.
This is the work that our team is undertaking this summer. We have been meeting with various stakeholders in the refugee systems in Sweden and Germany to learn more about the experiences of both those seeking asylum as well as the numerous nonprofits and governments seeking to help amidst this global crisis. We have met with entrepreneurial founders of nonprofits, dedicated government immigration officials, passionate caseworkers attempting to help support unaccompanied teenagers, psychotherapists, social workers, and refugees who themselves have become psychosocial counselors in order to give back and help their peers heal. We have met with officials from the UNHCR, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, the A and dozens of refugees themselves. These interactions have allowed us to attain invaluable information and increase our understanding of the refugee situation here in Northern Europe. We have also been able to share our vision and model of contributing to healthy integration by addressing trauma and strengthening mental health across communities. We have received positive feedback and interest from these partners, and are hopeful about the opportunities to come as we continue to develop our relationships here in Northern Europe.