The Columbus Group works to improve Somali mental health

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A local mental health group is expanding its reach within the Somali community of Columbus.

“Mental health in the Somali community is important,” said Nacima Aden, 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 that most Somali families go through in America.

“Depression is a big problem in our community, and a lot of people say you should just go to the mosque, you should read your Quran, you’re not, you know, you don’t have great faith,” Aden said.

Those reasons explain why Aden said she got into social work, studying at Ohio State University to become a mental health advocate for Somalis in Columbus.

Eventually, she applied to work at Buckeye Ranch, which hosts the Somali Outreach Program, a counseling and outreach service, with Somali-speaking specialists.

“There are specific barriers that the Somali community, as well as other refugee and immigrant communities, face in our county,” said Michelle Vargas, director of the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition.

Director Vargas said their organization works alongside Buckeye Ranch to provide mental health resources directly to the Somali community.

“Faith places are very important within the Somali community, and so we have had various organizations that have visited these places of worship,” Vargas said.

“We work in the community, just like in schools, we help teachers with children, parents, because there is a language barrier,” Aden said.

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