Medical News & Perspectives
August 4, 1999

Addressing Mental Health Needs of Balkan Refugees

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Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999American Medical Association

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JAMA. 1999;282(5):422-423. doi:10.1001/jama.282.5.422-JMN0804-4-1

"Memory can redeem the past, it can transfigure history, however painful, into another pattern."—T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Chicago—Escaping a homeland poisoned by war and ethnic cleansing, Bosnian refugees arrived in the United States in the early 1990s to forge new lives. But not all terrors were left behind. Concealed amid their few belongings were traumatic memories of displacement, combat, concentration camps, and rape.

In the wake of such horrific experiences, survivors need access to adequate mental health services, but care must fit the people's needs and circumstances, said Stevan Weine, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Much remains to be learned about ways to help people who've been through such terrible experiences, he added.

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