Most of the approximately 2,400 Afghan refugees who resettle in Contra Costa County – many in eastern and central portions of the county – are Special Immigrant Visa holders who have been forced to flee Afghanistan due to violent threats stemming from their work with the U.S. government. The threats, the political violence some experienced and an entire litany of migration stressors from discrimination through difficulties accessing support services significantly increase the risk that these individuals will experience emotional problems and mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. For generally monolingual Dari-speaking Afghan women who care for family members and children, are socially isolated, and have less access to opportunities for community engagement, the risks are heightened. A study of Afghan and Kurdish refugee populations found social isolation remained a prominent issue even twenty years post-resettlement and that levels of social support and mental health are directly related to each other.
To respond to the challenges Contra Costa’s Afghan families face, the CHF has awarded Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay (JFCSEB), the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and Catholic Charities of the East Bay (CCEB) $279,527 for implementation of the New American Family Strengthening (NAFS) initiative. The initiative will address the needs of Afghan families in Central and East Contra Costa County who have been in the country more than 60 days. The objective is to strengthen and support these newly settled immigrant families, with a particular focus on women, who often bear the greatest emotional burdens.
From February through June 2019, the three partners will:
Execute inter-partner memorandums of understanding
From May through December 2019, the partners will launch a pilot aimed at serving 200 individuals through a variety of activities, including:
Among the anticipated outcomes for the Afghan families and individuals: