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Refugees fleeing genocide develop culturally fluent models of mental health care

Members of the Sikh community along with other mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin. Those pictured stand shoulder to shoulder, holding lit candles.
Darren Hauck
Getty Images
Members of the Sikh community along with other mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin for the victims of the shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin the previous day, on Aug, 6, 2012 in Brookfield, Wis. Wade Michael Page opened fire with a 9mm pistol at the Sikh Temple, killing six people before being killed by police in a shootout.

This hour on Where We Live, we hear from two survivors of genocide. Theanvy Kuoch fled Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge in 1981, having lost 19 family members. Reena Aurora left India in 1989 five years after her brother was burned to death in the wave of anti-Sikh violence.

Both women struggled to find culturally fluent psychiatric care for themselves and their families, leading Theanvy and Reena to develop new models of mental health care for immigrant communities that straddle dual cultures.

We also hear from IRIS in New Haven on how the nonprofit is adding to its wellness team to better serve the mental health needs of recent Afghan and Ukrainian refugees.


Reena Kaur Aurora: Board Member, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut
Theanvy Kuoch: Executive Director, Khamer Health Advocates. Family therapist and community health worker.
Ann O’Brien: Director of Sponsorship, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

Where We Live is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode!

Cat Pastor contributed to this show which originally aired November 2, 2022.

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Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.