Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center
Reach Out, You May Save a Life 


Whether you are a community member, resettlement professional, or spiritual leader, everyone who works with refugees has a role in suicide prevention. Building social connections with refugees can decrease their isolation and thus risk for suicide. Ways to build connection include holding a community gathering or staying in touch with a refugee to show you care. The stigma surrounding suicide often leads to silence; but speaking openly about the issue can be a powerful intervention. Asking how someone is doing and, if you are concerned about suicide, asking specifically whether that person has thoughts of killing him or herself can demonstrate caring and help identify those who could benefit from mental health services. If someone indicates they are considering suicide, giving a sense of hope and working to connect the person to mental health services is critical.


RHTAC Refugee Suicide Prevention Training Toolkit is a curriculum designed to help suicide prevention trainers teach anyone who works with refugees these suicide prevention strategies. The toolkit contains role plays based on common resettlement challenges so training participants can practice asking about suicidal thoughts and offer hope under guidance from a suicide prevention trainer. Worksheets in the toolkit can be used by trainers to help participants generate a list of social supports that take into account refugees' resiliency and their community's strengths.  

Download the free Toolkit and host a training >


In the Literature

Interpersonal-psychological precursors to suicidal behavior: A theory of attempted and completed suicide. Van Orden KA, Merrill KA, Joiner Jr. TE. Current Psychiatry Reviews. 2005; 1, 187-196.


Who am I? Assessment of psychosocial needs and suicide risk factors among Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and after third country resettlement. Schinina G, Sharma S, Gorbacheva O, Mishra AK. International Organization for Migration. 2010.

Group therapy for refugees and torture survivors: Treatment model innovations. Kira IA, Ahmed A, Wasim F, Mahmoud V, Colrain J, Rai D. Int J Group Psychother. 2012; 62(1):69-88.


Mental health of displaced and refugee children resettled in high-income countries: Risk and protective factors. Fazel M, Reed RV, Panter-Brick C, Stein A. Lancet. 2012; 379(9812):266-282.  


Cultural background and socioeconomic influence of immigrant and refugee women coping with postpartum depression. O'Mahony JM, Donnelly TT, Raffin Bouchal S, Este D. J Immigr Minor Health. 2012.   


More Ways to Get Your Refugee Health News


Visit the RHTAC website to check out Refugee Health Updates, your central hub for refugee health news, events, funding opportunities, and resources. To have refugee health updates sent to you, subscribe to our RSS feed and follow us on Twitter @RefugeeHealthTA.   

Announcing Refugee Health Division at ORR


Two years ago, ORR established health and mental health services as one of its key guiding principles for effective resettlement. Since then ORR has taken several steps to promote refugee health, including creating the Office's first ever Division of Refugee Health. This new Division brings together ORR's different health-related activities under one umbrella and builds partnerships with agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services to create health-oriented programs for refugees. 

Ramadan 2012


Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility, and submissiveness to God. Ramadan celebration in North America is July 20 - August 19, 2012.   During the celebration a fast, held from sunrise to sunset, is carried out by observing Muslims. In the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so Ramadan celebration will begin on the sunset of July 19, 2012.


Based on the Quran, those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year.  Muslim patients may still choose to fast because, to most, Ramadan is believed to be the most blessed and spiritually beneficial month of the Islamic year. 


Extensive resources for clinicians working with refugees who observe this holiday can be found on EthnoMed.    

Affordable Care Act & Refugee Health


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes measures specifically related to the expansion of access to mental health services. Starting immediately, people who have not been able to access health insurance due to a pre-existing mental health condition can apply to receive insurance through the new Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), which covers mental health services.


Starting in 2014, the ACA will:

  • Expand Medicaid to new populations and require mental health and substance use disorder services to be part of the Essential Benefits Package, a set of health care service categories that must be covered by Medicaid.
  • Require the Essential Benefits Package to be included in all policies that participate in Health Insurance Exchanges, further expanding access to mental health services.
  • Prevent insurers from denying coverage or raising insurance premiums based on pre-existing conditions, including mental illness and substance abuse.
  • Expand access to mental health services by enhancing community-based service options, supporting school-based health centers, and driving the creation of health homes for individuals with chronic health conditions, including mental illness and substance use disorders.

 In the News:  

ACA Resources  

North American Refugee Healthcare Conference Highlights


More than 450 refugee-serving providers attended the North American Refugee Healthcare Conference held on June 28-30, 2012.  


Conference highlights include:

  • Keynote speeches from Martin Cetron, MD, Director of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine and from Eskinder Negash, Director of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement
  • Over 45 poster presentations on refugee health-related research and programs
  • Seminars led by representatives from U.S. federal agencies, UNHCR, resettlement agencies, academic institutions, and state public health departments. View archived seminar presentations > 
  • Advance screening of "American Heart", a documentary film that follows three resettled refugee families as they access health care in the U.S.
Mark your calendar for the next North American Refugee Health Conference to be held on June 6-8, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. Learn more >  
Upcoming RHTAC Webinars


Refugees and Medicaid:  Strategies for Increasing Eligible Refugees' Enrollment in Medicaid - Now and in 2014
Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | 12:30-2:00pm EDT

Details: This is the second in a series of webinars designed to help the national refugee resettlement network facilitate refugees' access to long-term, quality, and affordable health care.

Register now >

Refugee Women's Health: Reproductive Health and Family Planning

Thursday, September 13, 2012 | 12:00-1:30pm EDT

Details: This clinician-focused webinar will present an overview of refugee women's health and challenges faced by healthcare professionals in providing culturally competent reproductive health care and family planning.
Register now > 

Upcoming Events & Trainings 


Healthy Living: Promoting Health and Safety in Immigrant Communities Webinar 

July 24, 2012, 4:00 PM EST 

Presented by: Cities of Migration


July 25 - 26, 2012, Washington, DC
Presented by: U.S. Department of State

Office of Refugee Resettlement 2012 National Consultation 

September 19-20, 2012, Arlington, VA 

Presented by: U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement


National Immigrant Integration Conference

September 22-25, 2012, Baltimore, MD

Presented by: The National Partnership for New Americans 


2012 National Refugee and Immigrant Conference: Issues and Innovations

October 18-19, 2012, Chicago, IL

Presented by: Adult Learning Resource Center


The Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations

March 11-14, 2013, Oakland, CA  

Presented by: DiversityRx  


View more events > 

Funding Opportunities 

U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement
Application Due July 23, 2012.  Funding to provide innovative and new technical assistance to refugee-serving agencies and mainstream providers to assist in their response to challenges and needs specific to refugee resettlement.


Services for Survivors of Torture Program: Assistance to Torture Survivors through Direct Services  

U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement 

Application Due August 6, 2012. Provides up to 30 grants to direct service providers for physical, psychological, social, and legal services for persons who have been tortured.  


Services for Survivors of Torture Program: Technical Assistance to Organizations and Institutions Providing Direct Services to Torture Survivors

U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement 

Application Due August 6, 2012. Funding to provide technical assistance  to organizations and institutions that serve survivors of torture, who are refugees or seeking asylum in the U.S.

View more funding opportunities > 

RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience at Children's Hospital Boston, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at Center for Applied Linguistics, and JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. RHTAC is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.    


For more information, please email

join mailing list

Follow us on Twitter




Bhutanese Refugee Health Profile
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Health profile provides information about Bhutanese refugees'  medical screening, diet, and other health related topics.


Cultural profile provides information about Iraqi refugees' U.S. health care experiences and their health-related beliefs.   


Ramadan Reminder for Health Care Practitioners
Tips for health care providers caring for Muslim patients who fast during Ramadan. Discusses implications for patients who may be pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, or taking medications.

Opening Doors
Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration  
Report summarizing worldwide survey of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) caring for LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers. 

Map of Resettlement Support Centers' Cultural Orientation Programs
Cultural Orientation Resource Center, Center for Applied Linguistics 
Map includes location, target population, length, and emphasis of overseas orientations provided by Resettlement Support Centers.

New Technical Assistance Website for Providers Serving Torture Survivors National Capacity Building Project 
Provides resources on mental health, social services, legal issues, medical issues, specific populations, and healing centers for providers, torture survivors, and the general public. 


View more resources > 


Webinar Archive   

Promising Practices in Domestic Health Orientation 

July 11, 2012


Making CLAS Happen

June 20, 2012 


Refugee Mental Health Screening: Operationalizing the RHS-15

May 23, 2012 


Infectious Disease Challenges in Refugees and Immigrants 

May 9, 2012  


Addressing the Language Access Barrier When Serving Refugee Patients

March 28, 2012  


Strong Roots and Bright Futures: Promoting Successful Adjustment for Refugee Youth 

February 8, 2012  


Adapting QPR Training to Incorporate Refugee Experiences 

January 31, 2012 


Tools and Strategies for Refugee Mental Health Screening: Introducing the RHS-15

January 25, 2012 


Refugee Health Orientation Continuum: Overseas and Domestic Perspectives 

December 5, 2011 

Clinical Care to Refugees with HIV Infection

November 30, 2011


Domestic Refugee Health Screening Models and Clinical Guidelines

October 26, 2011


Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Refugees in Primary Care Settings

July 27, 2011


HIV and Refugee Resettlement  

June 23, 2011

Suicide Among Refugees: Understanding the Social and Cultural Context for Prevention Strategies

May 17, 2011   


Newsletter Archive

Missed a newsletter?  

Catch up by visiting the archive!