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Burmese Refugees Struggle With Mental Health Issues

Apr 18, 2018
Participants at one of the Burma Center's English as a second language (ESL) classes
courtesy of The Burma Center

In the United States, the risk of suicide is higher for refugees. It’s even higher if you’re a refugee from Burma. The trauma of fleeing a country in conflict can often turn into mental illness, even years later. But the Western concept of mental health doesn’t exist in Burmese culture. Words like “depression” often don’t translate. As a result, some Burmese refugees aren’t getting the care they need. 

Clerk/Register's Office, Kalamazoo County

Kalamazoo County's local ID task force says residents can apply for the card starting May 3. The identification program is intended to help people who cannot get a state ID. 

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Health officials in Kalamazoo County are calling for more regulation of some water wells. Right now, non-drinking wells that draw less than 70 gallons per minute do not need a permit. The state does set rules for wells that pull more than that volume.

Unspecified artist, Lavender Morning / OutFront Kalamazoo

It might sound hyperbolic to say that community can save your life, but that was the experience of some members of Kalamazoo’s Lavender Morning. Founded in 1979, the lesbian group, which organized dances and published a newsletter, included women whose families ostracized them for being gay.

Western Michigan University libraries

In 1915, just fifty years after the end of slavery in the United States, a group of states convened a fair in Chicago they called the Lincoln Jubilee. The weeks-long event celebrated African-Americans’ achievements since the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment. Michigan’s delegation wrote a book for the occasion, and one historian says it belongs on everyone’s reading list.