Solving The Puzzling Mental Illness of Bhutanese Refugees


KANSAS, USA, October 28, 2014( by Alex Smith, Kcur):The community health specialist,Dr Lemaster has been working for the past several years to address the unique challenges of Bhutanese refugees. Many Bhutanese refugees have had trouble adapting to life in the United States. “Within a month of getting here, somebody committed suicide and we began to be become aware that the risk of suicide in the Bhutanese refugees is about three times the risk of in other refugee groups,” LeMaster says. “So we started looking into that.” He tried art therapy, dance therapy, tai chi and even a petting zoo and finally yoga.

Yoga therapist Claudia Cardin-Kleffner specializes in working with people with chronic health conditions. LeMaster says that earlier in his career, he would have been hesitant to prescribe yoga and was surprised by the program’s success. The women’s levels of pain on a standard pain index dropped dramatically. Participants also showed major improvements on standard measures of anxiety, depression and acculturation.

Studies have shown that yoga helps the brain, heart and nervous system. But why did it work in this case when physical therapy and medication failed? That’s something LeMaster is still trying to understand. But the answer may have to do with nothing more mysterious than cultural familiarity. Whether it was the yoga or mere coincidence, there hasn’t been a suicide among the Kansas City refugees since LeMaster instituted the program. Now he’s exploring how yoga and other culturally-specific practices can be used to help additional immigrant groups.

Source: Hinduism Today