Mental Health Care With Refugee Families: A Transnational Collectivist Approach

Ifrah Mahamud Magan, Odessa Gonzalez Benson, Moiyattu Banya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With more than 25 million refugees around the globe and forced displacement an intractable issue, how can social workers provide mental health services that account for refugee families’ complex displacement narratives and needs? In this article, we argue for a global perspective on mental health, seeking to go beyond the immediate, local context which is too often bounded by the nation-state, and for going beyond the individual level to consider family, community, and culture as sources of strength and connections. Specifically, this article introduces a transnational collectivist approach (TCA) to mental health service delivery with refugee families. This approach acknowledges that even after resettlement in the United States, refugees continue to engage with and support members of their immediate and/or extended family in their country of origin and in other host countries, including those in refugee campus. Furthermore, this approach also builds on the insight that family, extended family members, and cultural communities may have shared experiences of both trauma and healing. Our article defines a TCA framework and concludes with practical elements and recommendations for mental health practitioners and clinicians to consider when working with refugee families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
JournalFamilies in Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • collectivist
  • families
  • mental health
  • refugee
  • transnational

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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