Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


Social Work


It is estimated that there are over 50,000 Somali refugees currently living in Minnesota, making Minnesota the largest resettlement location for Somalis in the United States (World Relief Minnesota, 2013). Research has shown that refugees, including the Somali community, experience higher rates of mental health concerns and seek less mental health treatment than any group. This phenomenon is even more prominent in refugee youth (Ellis, Lincoln, Charney, Ford-Paz, Benson & Strunin, 2010). There is a gap in the current research on Somali youth mental health and how to overcome the current barriers to treatment. This study examines the data from eight qualitative interviews with human service personnel with experience working with Somali youth. These interviews explored the participants’ understanding of Somali youth mental health, the Somali cultural view of mental health and its treatment, current barriers that keep Somali youth out of the mental health service delivery system, and strategies to overcome those barriers in order to provide better mental health services for Somali youth. The themes from the data suggest that it is critical to understand the Somali worldview, as well as the unique stressors Somali youth face, in order to engage in more effective mental health treatment with this population. The data also identifies current barriers, as well as various approaches to overcoming those barriers. The implications of this research may be used to inform micro level practice changes for human service personnel, as well as mezzo and macro level policy changes within our mental health service delivery system.

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