Thursday, December 1, 2022

Immigrant creates saftey net for newcomers

 By Otisha James and Amnah Mohson

In hopes of starting a better life, Asukulu Resor faced hardships being an immigrant adapting to the American lifestyle. The language barrier, culture shock, and feeling of isolation have caused an imminent need for mental health resources.  

This prompted Resor, CEO of Center of Solidarity for Refugees and Immigrants Services, to start his company, offering a safety net for refugees and immigrants on the West Side.

“Some of them are already traumatized by seeing people dying in front of them, hearing the sounds of guns all the time, and including the stresses that they're going through in America, everything in America is stressful,” Resor said.

Asukulu Resor

Individuals who are looking for better opportunities opt to leave their homes and resettle in other countries. The move is frequently accompanied by renewed hope for better living conditions and the ambition to pursue goals that were previously impossible in their home country.

Often, migrants come from cultures that focus on family and have a hard time adapting to a country with individualistic and independent culture.

Due to cultural stigma, immigrants and refugees withdraw from mental health care services. They are actively discouraged from getting help for mental health issues and issues related to them in their communities. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that many immigrant families live within or very close to their immigrant community but yet the sense of separation still exists. Their hesitation is frequently caused by financial concerns or a fear that others may find out.

Christie Lesser, department chair of behavioral health at the Neighborhood Health Center, says creating a community where individuals have a sense of assurance can lead to a vulnerable environment that offers emotional and behavioral health support.

“The stigma and the lack of services, and the isolation that so many of our refugees and immigrant populations experience, we could do better as a community,” Lesser said.

Researchers at the National Library of Medicine have found that trauma exposure during migration is associated with a range of mental health outcomes. Michael Murphy of Catholic Charities says that immigrants experienced all kinds of situations while migrating and oftentimes find it hard to meet people who relate. 

“The trauma is not only what you essentially experience, to sort of trigger the evidence or the activity to get you to the United States but I think that the trauma is also having to figure out how, if or when you’ll be able to process that because again you may not find the resources that you could need in order to make that happen,” Murphy said. 


Murphy, on the immigrant experience in American culture: 


Since 2001, more than 15,000 refugees have moved to Buffalo. The West Side neighborhood in particular has seen significant urban recovery thanks to refugees and other migrants. The growth of immigrants and refugees in Buffalo helped offset the population decline between 2000 and 2014.

Treatment services in immigrant communities can lead to a culturally diverse neighborhood where mental health services are accepted.