On the initiative of community organizations and with support from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), a two-day regional conference on mental health was organized in Harrisburg, PA from June 28-29.
Community organizations from around thirty cities deputed their representatives to Harrisburg to attend the training; some of the participants came from as far as Arizona.
The first day was day of presentation and panel discussion. The experts presented the whole facts about how important was issue of having the conference on mental health of Bhutanese resettled in US given the number of Bhutanese resettled in Pennsylvania.
While, Bhutanese physiatrist Dr. Chhabi Timsina presented the cultural understanding and ways of treating health issues from the very traditional point of view held in common by the Bhutanese in general. Mental health issues are not yet properly understood and handled, according to him.
Dr. Ken Thomson of Squirrel Hill Clinic in Pittsburgh gave his idea about the way the issues began to be seen prominently in the resettled community in Pittsburgh and his involvement to connect to various resources on treating mental health.
The panelists discussed about the ways and means they have been employing in their respective communities to understand and provide help to those who are in emotional distress. However, there was not much understanding among the panelists to show the skill and expertise while taking some serious conditions that already lead to suicide.
The second day was spent in full for training on first aid of mental health treatment. Experts discussed a wide range of topics for covering the mental health diagnosis and handling with care or referring to mental health experts. It was an interactive training session.
The conference was a joint effort of joint effort of three community-based organizations, Bhutanese Community Organization of Philadelphia, Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh and Bhutanese Community of Harrisburg, in collaboration with ORR and Pennsylvania Department of Health through its Refugee Health Program.