Karen Refugees from Burma

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IBHC for Refugees: A Qualitative Inquiry

This webinar, from July 22, 2015, features Jennifer Esala, PhD, and Alison Beckman, MSW, LICSW, of the Center for Victims of Torture. This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


Average: 4 (1 vote)


Wednesday, 22 July 2015



There is a tremendous unmet need for behavioral health services among refugee populations in the U.S. Integrated care is one promising approach to improving refugee populations’ access to high quality mental health services, and it is receiving increasing resources from funding sectors as part of health care reform. While there is much excitement about integrated care, there remains a clear need for research on how integrated care works in practice and how it works for specific populations. In this webinar, we will review the components and benefits of IBHC and discuss key findings from a research study at CVT on IBHC. CVT's Healing Hearts Project provides integrated mental health services and targeted case management to Karen refugees in two primary care clinics in Minnesota. As a part of a larger randomized control trial to study the effectiveness of this intervention, CVT is conducting in-depth interviews with each of the study participants (anticipated N = 300 in 2017) about their experiences with integrated care. From this narrative data, we will reflect on the ways that integrated behavioral health care appears to meet the needs of refugee populations particularly well. Additionally, we will provide reflections from our Healing Hearts team and the primary care staff on the practical implementation of integrated care.


After attending this webinar participants will be able to:

  1. Identify key components of Integrated Behavioral Health Care (IBHC)
  2. Recognize the specific benefits of IBHC for refugee populations (based on CVT qualitative research)
  3. Identify some considerations for work with Karen refugee populations relevant to primary care, behavior health care, and the integrated setting.


Jennifer Esala, PhD Research Associate

Dr. Esala received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of New Hampshire with a concentration in medical sociology. She has researched and written on issues of mental health, youth violence and victimization, alternative medicine, maternal health practices, and food security in the rural U.S. Additionally, she has conducted evaluation work for programs aimed at developing state-level mental health recovery systems, improving immigrant and refugee youth and adult literacy, reducing rural youth substance abuse, and developing capacity among a collaborative of emergency service organizations. Her approach to evaluation research is broad, including a wide range of both qualitative and quantitative methods. As a Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor at CVT, Jennifer works with international torture rehabilitation centers to support them in effectively managing and using client information and to assist them in assessing the efficacy of their mental health interventions. Her writing has appeared in TORTURE: Asian and Global Perspectives, a bimonthly magazine published by the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Alison Beckman Project Manager/Clinical Supervisor

Ms. Beckman is the Project Manager/Clinical Supervisor for CVT’s project : Healing Hearts, Creating Hope; Exploring the Efficacy of Integrated Mental Health Services for New Refugees. Prior to this position, she provided psychological evaluation and treatment services to survivors of torture as individuals and in groups in Minnesota (since 1/04) and served as clinical supervisor to mental health case managers (since 10/10) Past experience in a variety of programs within CVT: From 2000-2002, was Clinical Social Work Fellow. In 2003, was a member of the mental health services team in Guinea; served as a trainer/supervisor to Sierra Leonean and Liberian paraprofessional psychosocial counselors. From 2005-2007, worked with CVT’s NCB team; served as project manager for research institute and of online project management course. From 2005-2010, managed the MN Training Program to educate health care providers, social workers and school staff to recognize and heal the wounds of torture and war. In 2010, developed an e-learning training curriculum, Tools for trauma recovery, for Cambodian health professionals. 


Karen Refugees from Burma in the US: an Overview for Torture Treatment Programs

This webinar, from 8/17/2011, features Eh Taw Dwe and Tonya Cook of the Karen Organization of Minnesota.

This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


Average: 3.7 (3 votes)


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

This webinar is meant to provide clinicians and health care workers with a base of knowledge in working with the Karen people from Burma. The presenters describe the history of the Karen and the Burma, as well as the torture and abuse they are likely to have faced in their homes, and/or refugee camps. Ms. Cook notes the importance placed on religion in the Karen community, affecting all aspects of life. When using an interpreter, it is important to understand the stigmas and associations placed on certain illnesses, especially mental illnesses.

Websites and articles referenced in the presentation

"The Karen people: Culture, Faith and History."

"Should it be Burma or Myanmar?"

Center for Applied Linguistics Backgrounder on Refugees from Burma

Karen National Union website

'Naypyidaw Orders New "Four Cuts" Campaign'

Thailand Burma Border Consortium