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Journal Article


Cardeli E, Phan J, Mulder L, Benson M, Adhikari R, Ellis BH. J. Sch. Health 2020; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2020, American School Health Association, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






BACKGROUND: Traumatic exposure combined with significant stressors in resettlement place Bhutanese refugees at risk for mental health problems. Despite this, refugee youth often are reluctant to seek mental health services. Psychosocial support services, such as school-based groups, offer one solution to this barrier to care. We had 2 aims in this study: (1) to describe the psychosocial needs of resettled Bhutanese refugee students; and (2) to evaluate the impact of skills-based groups on these students' sense of school belonging and mental health.

METHODS: Bhutanese refugee students in middle school (N = 34) participated in the 12-week group curriculum (a component of Trauma Systems Therapy for Refugees) and the associated preevaluation/postevaluation.

RESULTS: Baseline descriptive analyses indicated high levels of mental health symptoms; approximately, 49% of students met partial or full criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. In addition, sense of school belonging was significantly inversely associated with depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms at baseline. Paired sample t tests indicate that students' avoidance symptoms significantly decreased postintervention.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that skills-based groups may be an effective way to engage students in supportive services and address psychosocial needs. Findingsfurther highlight the potential protective role of school belonging in reducing refugee students' vulnerability to psychological distress.

Language: en


mental health; PTSD; stress; depression; Bhutanese refugees; traumatic exposure


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