Montagnard Dega Association Inc.

Montagnard Dega Association Inc.

The Montagnard Dega Association (MDA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Community-Based Organization formed in 1988. We exist to unite and strengthen the Montagnard community, to create a positive environment for all to meet, to build safe, healthy communities, to inspire education and to preserve our cultural heritage. MDA is one of

Montagnard Dega Association Inc.

The Montagnard Dega Association (MDA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Community-Based Organization formed in 1988. We exist to unite and strengthen the Montagnard community, to create a positive environment for all to meet, to build safe, healthy communities, to inspire education and to preserve our cultural heritage. MDA is one of the oldest AAPI refugee organization in the state. Our experience uniquely qualifies us to understand health disparities ‘structural drivers and to effect needed change because MDA has been a refugee service provider (RSP) for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) for many years, because for decades we have worked with local and state system stakeholders. North Carolina is home to many Montagnards outside of Southeast Asia and comprises a major portion of the local AAPI population. MDA works in cooperation with mutual assistance organizations, community groups, faith organizations, local, state, and refugee resettlement agencies. MDA is a refugee service provider recognized by NCDHHS. We have expanded to include a youth branch, Montagnard American Organization (MAO), research network, and community advisory council. We work closely with Bhutanese, Cambodian, Karenni, Sudanese, Liberian, and Swahili-speaking communities on education, health and Covid response. We also have a Community Advisory Council for community engagement which guides our in-house community disparities research network made up of community members, community health professionals and academics from area institutions.

About the Organization:

The Montagnard Dega Association (MDA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Community-Based Organization formed in 1988. We exist to unite and strengthen the Montagnard community, to create a positive environment for all to meet, to build safe, healthy communities, to inspire education and to preserve our cultural heritage. MDA is one of the oldest AAPI refugee organization in the state. Our experience uniquely qualifies us to understand health disparities ‘structural drivers and to effect needed change because MDA has been a refugee service provider (RSP) for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) for many years, because for decades we have worked with local and state system stakeholders. North Carolina is home to many Montagnards outside of Southeast Asia and comprises a major portion of the local AAPI population. MDA works in cooperation with mutual assistance organizations, community groups, faith organizations, local, state, and refugee resettlement agencies. MDA is a refugee service provider recognized by NCDHHS. We have expanded to include a youth branch, Montagnard American Organization (MAO), research network, and community advisory council. We work closely with Bhutanese, Cambodian, Karenni, Sudanese, Liberian, and Swahili-speaking communities on education, health and Covid response. We also have a Community Advisory Council for community engagement which guides our in-house community disparities research network made up of community members, community health professionals and academics from area institutions.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

31+ YEARS

The Issue:

Depression, drug abuse, domestic violence, gambling, and suicide are more prevalent than what is understood by local American authorities. If they know of them at all, they are regarded as individual cases to health providers, law enforcement and other system players. In 2014, a Greensboro police officer shot to death an Amerasian elderly woman suffering a mental health crisis. A diagnosed schizophrenic Montagnard man was regularly arrested by police and placed into detention without language access or his medications. But tragic cases fade from memory until the next incident. In an expensive, complaint-driven system, neither health providers nor community members are likely to proactively respond. For instant, some of our clients were turned away when seeking mental health services because an agency does not have the language capacity to serve them. This is just one of the issues we face daily in our lines of works. How would our community members seek a mental health counseling when there are so many stigma around the word “mental health” or in our case, the word mental health does not exist? There are many ways we plan to address this issue, but we have to start small with limit capacity we currently have. In our communities, many individuals who suffering from mental health are now aging, homebound (without any family member to take care of them), and poor hampered by language and cultural barriers and never had a chance to seek culturally appropriate mental health counselling. We at MDA believe the social determinants of health (SDOH) framework cannot be discussed or applied without clear acknowledgement of the inherent stressors of being a refugee. We are unique because of our focus on community health and wellbeing which encompass casework, service, and research, as well as community-level information and education. We would like to address this issue by implementing multiple elements into this program. 1. Mental health reduction by educating, share resources, and support. 2. How can different types of traditional arts (dance, music, storytelling) can help with mental wellness. 3. Capacity building and support- train more CHWs and mental health first aiders.

The Solution:

This past Spring semester, we collaborated with Creative Aging Network of NC (CANNC) for our pilot program called Arts to English , and the participants (see video) enjoyed getting out of their home and into a fun learning environment. Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, we had to discontinue the program. With this opportunity arises and our mission to unite and strengthen our community, we are reframing our program to A Community-Based Mental Wellness with Arts and English. By reframing and implementing different activities, we would be able to address the barriers and stigma around mental health, an issue we do not recognize, and an issue we brush under the rug. 1. We plan to implement the following activities: Mental health reduction: - At the community level, we want to see a new acceptance of mental health by our community as addressable health problems. - To cultural identify mental health and mental health stigma reduction - To cultural identify mental wellness - To support individuals and families seeking mental first aid - To support, guide, and encourage community members adopting or participating in stress reduction practices. 2. How different form of arts can help individuals: - To contract with our partner, CANNC to teach the Arts and English class because they have the expertise of working with arts and elders. - To connect youth and elders through cultural traditional dance class, music, art class and storytelling. 3. Capacity building: - At the organizational level, we want to expand community health workers and mental health first aid trainings - To support our staff, partners, and volunteers for cross- culture training with other partners and providers. - To support individuals who are seeking mental health counseling with language access, culturally appropriate, and assist with financial assistant application when accessing mental health services. - To better understand and support Montagnard Second Generation who are taking care of their children and taking care of their elder parents with chronic health conditions. - To provide a safe space for our youth and elders.

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