A Wellness Program for Hmong Americans

(Photo courtesy of May Twenty and Five)

Since the pandemic, emotional and behavioral wellness has been in the spotlight although it has always been a concern. When Dr. Song Lee, a full professor and licensed counselor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation applied for sabbatical, she didn’t know that a pandemic would occur.  Nor was she aware that the pandemic would impact people’s social connections and heighten symptoms of mental health.  

Dr. Lee was granted her sabbatical in November, 2020, but had to wait until spring 2022 to take it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She used most of her time to create a Wellness Program hosted at Freedom Community Church in Fresno, Calif, to serve Hmong Americans. The City of Fresno has one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States, second to Minneapolis – St. Paul in Minnesota. About 35,000 Hmong reside in Fresno and currently about 1,444 Hmong students attend California State University, Fresno. 

Dr. Lee hopes the Wellness Program, known to the Hmong elders as the “Noj Qab Haus Huv Program,” will be a place that the Hmong will trust and easily access information and knowledge on mental health concerns and coping strategies to strengthen families. The Open House for the Wellness Program took place on October 22, 2022 and was celebrated with Fresno State faculty and students, members of Freedom Community Church, and members of the community who serve Hmong Americans in their respective fields and agencies.  

For questions about the program or if you or your Hmong families and friends would like to seek support or services, please contact Dr. Song Lee at maLee@csufresno.edu or at 559-278-0349. The services are not considered counseling because they do not include diagnosis or treatment for specific mental health illnesses. Support services include bilingual and bicultural individual consultations and support groups on Sunday mornings at Freedom Community Church. Workshops and trainings will be posted on the Freedom Community Church website: https://www.freedomcommunity.org/wellness-program.html

(Written by Dr. Song Lee, Professor, Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation)

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