ESL as a Mental Health Intervention

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Directions: Please watch Eugene Augusterfer’s presentation and interview Telemedicine in Mental Health first. Then feel free to join us in this open forum. All are welcome to join this forum, whether you have an account on or not. For more information on using the forum, please read the directions on the first post. Please keep your comments respectful, relevant, factual, and do not share identifying information about clients per client privacy and HIPAA regulations. This forum will be open from July 6, 2020 through September 30, 2020.

This webinar, from July 15, 2009, features staff from the Spring Institute and the Rocky Mountain Survivors Center.

This webinar is part of the National Capacity Building (NCB) webinar series. NCB is a project of the Center for Victims of Torture.


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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Cultural Adjustment, Mental Health, and ESL:  The Role of the Teacher (attached)
A very helpful resource that includes information on the connection between ESL and mental health.  It is written for ESL teachers and, as it states in the book, “It is not meant to turn ESL providers into therapists or mental health specialists” but it suggests ESL activities to address mental health issues.

Webinar Summary

This webinar is intended for ESL providers. It focuses on the use of ESL as a tool to help better the mental health of torture survivors. However, this webinar is not intended to aid ESL providers in diagnosing students. Rather, it stresses the opportunities for community involvement found through both the ESL classroom experience and the ability to better relate to English speaking neighbors and colleagues. Also, it stresses the empowerment found in the ability to use English during a new activity. The unique classroom needs of torture survivors are discussed as well. For example, while some students can readily stabilize their physical and emotional agitation, facilitating learning, torture survivors often oscillate between extreme highs and lows and have a difficult time concentrating. Finally, a case study from the Rocky Mountain Survivor Center is covered, which includes specific examples of activities and classroom expectations best suited for torture survivors.

The Spring Institute has many other interesting and helpful publications as well, including Mental Health of Refugee Children and Refugee Children with Low Literacy Skills or Interrupted Education.

As a technical assistance provider through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, The Spring Institute is also available as a resource to answer questions on the information presented in this Webinar, language, and intercultural issues.  They may be contacted at:

Phone: (303) 863-0188
Fax: (303) 863-0178


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