A mental health care assessment can be extremely costly. Refugee families who often live on a single low-wage income cannot afford such expenses. Yet, the trauma with which many Darfurian women are dealing is deep.2 Group victimization, gender-based violence, and racially-motivated violence, which many of these women have faced, have all been found to exacerbate crime-induced trauma. The physical manifestations of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression often include: Sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches, paranoia, and hallucinations. In our experience, it has been extraordinarily difficult for Darfurian women and their families to find adequate mental health care services on their own.
Mental health problems are more stigmatizing than medical health problems, and persons suffering from them may not come forward and may face pressure from their families to stay silent. Another issue is that many Darfurian women often carry primary responsibility for large households with many children, and thus, they may not have time to “sit around and talk about their problems.”
We work with professional therapists who can offer initial mental health assessments to the women we encounter and determine whether a further referral might be in order.