San Diego, CA

The Making Connections Hub

The Making Connections Hub

After several suicides among young men of East African descent, the United Women of East Africa Support Team (UWEAST) decided to take on suicide prevention in City Heights, San Diego, which has the largest population of Somalian refugees in California.

UWEAST and its partner organizations work to prevent suicide by building on the community’s natural resilience and culture of strong inter-personal connections. They have opened up a dialogue about mental health with community members; encouraged faith leaders to speak out about post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicide; and partnered with other local organizations to provide young men who feel hopeless about their future with leadership and career development training.

Photo Credit: Jill Hodges

How They're Solving the Problem

How They're Solving the Problem

Coalition partners are collaborating to implement the following activities:

  • The development of a peer-led, culturally literate, and responsive “wellness hub” to address employment, education, and isolation among young men of East African descent. The hub is a safe space where the young men can be themselves, honor their friendship and culture, and access resources to help them cope with traumatic experiences, social isolation, and depression.
  • Community events about topics that are highly stigmatized within the community of Somalian refugees whose children are being served by UWEAST: depression, suicide, substance abuse, and other mental health challenges.
  • Workshops and mentoring for young men on topics such as career development, leadership development, financial literacy, and advocacy and policy training.
  • Leadership opportunities for young men of East African descent who decide on the project’s priorities and activities, act as mentors to their peers, and advocate with county leaders about the community’s need for culturally competent behavioral health services.

Photo Credit: Oren Robinson

Impact

Impact

Through the Making Connections hub, young men are accessing trusted peer and community networks that help them make informed decisions about their own mental health. They have become knowledgeable about behavioral health resources and are successfully participating in behavioral health programs. They are also becoming advocates for their community. The project is now recognized by San Diego policymakers and other leaders as a promising practice that may be replicated in different neighborhoods.

Photo Credit: Jill Hodges

 

Participating Organizations

United Women of East Africa Support Team

Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans

UC San Diego Center for Community Health

Southern Sudanese Community Center

African Workforce Coalition

 

check out these related podcasts and videos

Preventing and Addressing Community Trauma 

Development Without Displacement

If you want to talk health, you have to talk social connection