COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A local mental health group is expanding its reach within Columbus’ Somali community.
“Mental health in the Somali community is big,” said Nacima Aden, a mental health specialist with The Buckeye Ranch Somali Outreach Program.
As a Somali immigrant and mental health specialist, Aden has seen and experienced the struggle most Somali families go through in America.
“Depression is a big one in our community, and a lot of people say you should just go to the mosque, you should read your Koran, you’re not being, you know, you don’t have a high faith,” said Aden.
Those reasons are why Aden said she went into social work, studying at Ohio State University to become a mental health advocate for Somalians in Columbus.
Eventually she applied to work at the Buckeye Ranch, which hosts the Somali Outreach Program, a counseling and intervention service, with Somali-speaking specialists.
“There are specific barriers that the Somali community, as well as other refugee and immigrant communities, are experiencing in our county,” said Michelle Vargas, director of the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
Director Vargas said their organization is working alongside Buckeye Ranch to provide mental health resources directly to the Somali community.
“Faith-based locations are very important within the Somali community, and so we’ve had various organizations going to those places of worship,” said Vargas.
It’s that outreach and advocacy that Aden said is helping to educate those in her community about depression and mental health.
“We work in the community, just like at the schools, we help out the teachers with the kids, parents, because there is a language barrier,” said Aden.