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Educators help Kaiser understand Afghan refugee mental health issues

Head shots of the two experts.

Associate Professor Carl Stempel, left, Lecturer Valerie Smith.

  • April 2, 2010 10:00am

Two experts on issues affecting Afghan refugees in the Bay Area, Carl Stempel, associate professor of sociology and social services, and Valerie Smith, lecturer in communication and facilitator for the Afghan Health Leadership Consortium, were invited by Kaiser Permanente to educate health care professionals on issues specific to treating Afghan refugees living in the Bay Area.

Their recommendations, based on their recently completed research projects in the local Afghan community, include:

-  Having trained bilingual and culturally sensitive health care providers

-  Emphasizing confidentiality

-  Showing sensitivity to strong cultural ties, such as those to the family

-  Screening routinely for Post-traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

-  Preparing individualized treatment plans

-  Tips on utilizing the American health care system

-  Having an increased number of culturally-appropriate organized exercise programs

-  Being watchful for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Rona Popal, executive director of the Afghan Coalition, and Millie Gerhart, a retired registered nurse, spoke of carbon monoxide poisoning among refugees from unvented stoves in Afghanistan and the resulting learning disabilities.

Stempel’s initial report is available from him by at carl.stempel@csueastbay.edu; Smith’s general recommendations report is at http://csueastbay-dspace.calstate.edu/handle/10211.5/9

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