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Side Effects will examine the health care challenges that refugees and immigrants face in the U.S. Language barriers, cultural misunderstandings and our complex bureaucracy can interfere with effective care.Have a story idea? Email

How Do Refugees Get Mental Health Care? A Conversation With The 21st

Lauren Bavis/Side Effects Public Media
Kazito Kalima is the founder of the Peace Center for Forgiveness & Reconciliation in Indianapolis. He came to Indiana on a basketball scholarship after his family was killed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

Refugees face unique challenges to getting mental health care in the United States. Cultural differences, stigma and language barriers can make finding treatment difficult. 

Side Effects reporter Lauren Bavis spoke with Niala Boodhoo, host of Illinois Public Media’s The 21st, about her reporting on refugee mental health. She was joined by Kazito Kalima, founder and executive director of the Peace Center for Forgiveness & Reconciliation in Indianapolis and a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Mengxi Zhang, a Ball State University assistant professor of health science who studies refugee health. 

Getting Mental Health Help as a Refugee by The 21st Every year, tens of thousands of refugees arrive in the U.S. fleeing war and violence. And adjusting to live in the U.S. can be hard for many people. Not only could it mean a new language, getting a new job and being away from family and friends, refugees can also face legal uncertainty, financial hardship and social stigma.