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Bhutanees Refugees in Apartment

Photo by UNHCR / J. Rae

Welcome to the Refugee Health Assistance Technical Assistance Center
(RHTAC)! We are beginning with email newsletters to provide you with updates and information on emerging issues. In the future, the website will grow with your input to host current information and space for community dialogue.

We welcome your feedback and thoughts! Please contact us at [email protected]

Spotlight on Suicide Prevention: Bhutanese Refugees

Suicide among Bhutanese refugees resettled in the U.S. has become an increasing concern. Some reports suggest that suicide rates have increased in Bhutanese culture as a whole and are also unusually high in refugee camps and post-resettlement.  In response, federal agencies are coordinating efforts to understand, address and prevent suicide among

Bhutanese and other refugee groups. Some of these efforts include:

  • A report commissioned by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), Department of State that assesses psychosocial needs and suicide risk factors among Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and after the third country resettlement;
  • A workshop with Bhutanese community leaders facilitated by RHTAC at the Project SOAR Annual Workshop for Ethnic Community Self-Help and Supplemental Services Program held in San Diego March 2011;
  • Ongoing interagency calls to ensure coordination of response.

At RHTAC, we are working closely with these agencies and local communities to gather information and develop resources to assist providers and Bhutanese and other refugee communities. Watch for announcements regarding webinars, fact sheets and toolkits that will support and promote promising practices in preventing suicide among refugees in our upcoming newsletters.


As we develop these resources, we invite you to comment, share strategies and experiences, ask questions, or otherwise participate in shaping the discussion and solutions around the growing concern of suicide among refugees. There will be a community forum on the website, but in the meantime, please send us an email at [email protected].

We asked. You responded.

Last month we invited you to complete a user survey and, to date, have received more than 250 responses from clinicians, public health professionals, case managers, educators and researchers. We are already seeing a strong interest in mental health screening, PTSD, trauma, cultural competence, and language access. More detailed information about your feedback will be made available on our website in the coming months. 


If you haven't already, we encourage you to take the survey.

Conferences & Trainings

Save the Date: August 1-2 2011,Washington D.C

ORR 2011 National Consultation "Bridges to a New Future" 


May 8-12, 2011, Boston MA

International Society of Travel Medicine 


June 1-3, 2011,Toronto, Canada

Canadian Refugee Health: Health means the world to us 


October 24 - 26, 2011, Seattle, Washington

4th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference 2011 


Applications Deadline: July 1st, 2011

Global Mental Health: Trauma and Recovery Certificate Training Program 

Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma at the Harvard Medical School and the Istituto Superiore di Sanit´┐Ż/Italian Ministry of Health.  

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB270602.


For more information, please contact 617 983 6589 or write [email protected]

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In the Literature 

Health of resettled Iraqi refugees --- San Diego County, California, October 2007-September 2009.  MMWR 2010 Dec 17;59(49):1614-8. MMWR  


Eckstein B. Primary care for refugees. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Feb 15;83(4):429-36. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. PubMed abstract  


Tamblyn JM, Calderon AJ, Combs S, O'Brien MM. Patients from Abroad Becoming Patients in Everyday Practice: Torture Survivors in Primary Care.J Immigr Minor Health. 2010 Dec 28. [Epub ahead of print] Dept of Internal Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center. PubMed abstract  


Carswell K, Blackburn P, Barker C. The relationship between trauma, post-migration problems and the psychological well-being of refugees and asylum seekers. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2011 Mar;57(2):107-19.  The Traumatic Stress Clinic, Camden and Islington Foundation Trust, London UK.  PubMed abstract   


Schweitzer RD, Brough M, Vromans L, Asic-Kobe M. Mental health of newly arrived Burmese refugees in Australia: contributions of pre-migration and post-migration experience. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2011 Feb 8. [Epub ahead of print] School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. PubMed abstract   


Weine SM, Hoffman Y, Ware N, Tugenberg T, Hakizimana L, Dahnweigh G, Currie M, Wagner M.Secondary migration and relocation among African refugee families in the United States. Fam Process 2011 Mar;50(1):27-46.  Dept of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL. Dept of Global Health & Social Medicine, Harvard University, Boston, MA. 

PubMed abstract