Amy Dix on Refugee Mental Health

Amy Dix believes in helping people heal through compassion and support. She supervises Heartland Alliance Health’s IFACES program – which connects refugees and asylees with mental health services and their new communities.

What got you into this work?

I chose social work and mental health because I was good at listening and seeing patterns and connections. I was an intern in FACES when I was in social work school, and was so excited to find it because I had always felt drawn to work with refugees. After graduation, I worked for a time at at RICS, Heartland’s refugee resettlement program, and ultimately back to IFACES.

Was there a moment where you KNEW you were in a job that was right for you?

I’ve always had the deepest respect for the staff and participants at FACES so it was very scary to manage them. I think some of that was the so-called “imposter syndrome,” but I still felt strongly I was here for a purpose that I believed in, which was helping people who had fled war and terror to heal and integrate.

After the election we were all really hurting, full of dread about what would happen, feeling betrayed. I remember I knew that day that my job was to create space for my team to process and be together. That is what really makes America great – we are so different but we are in this together.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The food, obviously, and my coworkers! It’s a bit like traveling, I get to learn about different cultures all the time. And of course, the best part is when people start to heal. It’s amazing to see someone really become who they can be, out from under the fear and depression.

How can others help your work? 

Give your support and encouragement to any non-profit professionals in your life! It can be a hard job, with a lot of intense emotions on and under the surface. Many helping professionals are good at helping but not so good at asking for support. Listen to them vent, show interest and appreciation. It means a lot and helps people to keep doing the work.

Learn more about IFACES here.