Jefferson Fellow Helps Generate Healing through Art

Jefferson faculty development and primary care research fellow in Family and Community Medicine, Ellen Plumb, MD, is working with Philadelphia’s immigrants to help them adjust more completely to life in the city.

Dr. Plumb has worked with the city Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services (DBHIDS) to use a program called PhotoVoice to have immigrants take pictures and then discuss their observations.

“The participants become visual anthropologists in their own communities,” says Dr. Plumb. “But, it also links needs assessment with community participation.”

Discussing their photos reveals differences among the immigrant groups in their responses to migration and resettlement.

In addition, the city’s Porch Light program connects the city’s immigrants with artists employed by the city to design and paint walls in South Philadelphia and is supported by the city’s mural arts program and DBHIDS.

The murals bring refugees from Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Burma and Bhutan together to develop community cohesion and allow them to share a little bit of their world with their new city, in pictures. Talking about their trauma is often hard for them. This is an artistic alternative.

An article on the program was featured in Psychiatric News, you can read it online here.

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