L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Keegan Helps to Organize Statewide Refugee Mental Health Summit

August 7, 2018

Brittany Keegan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Wilder School and the research coordinator and Land Use Education Program director in the Center for Public Policy, chaired the organizing committee for the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Service’s Fifth Annual Statewide Refugee Mental Health Summit.

This event, held July 11-12, brought together more than 100 refugees and service providers from across the commonwealth to share their experiences and ideas for promoting refugee mental health. This year’s event had the theme, “Bridging cultures for healing, treatment and recovery,” and focused on ways that service providers can better understand and respect the cultural practices of refugees’ home countries.

In addition to chairing the organizing committee, during the event Keegan also delivered the welcome addresses, led a focus group for refugee and community leaders to discuss different cultural practices related to addressing mental health, and gave a presentation titled “Promoting refugee integration, self-sufficiency, and community building” that was based on data gathered for her dissertation.

“This was a wonderful experience,” said Keegan. “My dissertation focuses on ways in which nonprofit service providers can be more effective and responsive as they serve their refugee clients, and while I enjoy researching this topic, it’s also important to me to actually get out in the community and play an active role in helping refugees. This event was a great way to do that, and I hope that the summit’s speakers, focus groups, and presentations sparked ideas that can bring about real change for refugees in our community.”