Nepali Bhutanese refugees reap support through community gardening

Author(s): Monica M GERBER ; Jennifer L. CALLAHAN ; Danielle N. MOYER ; Melissa L. CONNALLY ; Pamela M. HOLTZ ; Beth M. JANIS

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ipp0000061

Abstract

Effectively addressing psychological needs of refugees is a challenge for service providers operating within an expensive health care system based on Western constructs of mental health. In response to this challenge, refugee resettlement agencies throughout the United States use community gardens to promote psychological healing, self-sufficiency, community engagement, and a return of human dignity. Although the success of these programs has been reported in the popular press, they have not been studied systematically. The present exploratory mixed methods study drew upon quantitative and qualitative data to explore perspectives on participating in a community garden among Nepali Bhutanese refugees (N = 50; 62% female). Participants self-selected to engage in gardening prior to research (n = 22), or were part of the nongardening comparison group (n = 28). Results revealed no significant group differences in regard to symptoms of depression, anxiety, somatic complaints, or adjustment to life in the United States. Quantitative results indicated that community gardening was significantly positively associated with social support, a key contributor to optimal functioning within communal cultures. Qualitative data provided additional context within which to understand these results, and further supported the role of social support in community gardening. Implications for clinical research, advocacy, and community care are discussed and suggestions for further research are provided.

Tags: USA, Bhutan, Nepal, Refugees, Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Gardening, Therapy, Social support

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