Public Gardens Provide Refuge for California's Alienated Communities

Patricia Leigh Brown looks at the community gardens funded by the California Mental Health Services Act of 2004, which help to heal disadvantaged refugee communities less inclined to use formal mental health treatments.

Brown visits the Hmong Village Community Garden, "one of seven in Fresno created for immigrants, refugees and residents of impoverished neighborhoods with mental health money from the state."

"The thinking of community leaders and health professionals is that gardens can help foster resiliency and a sense of purpose for refugees, especially older ones, who are often isolated by language and poverty and experiencing depression and post-traumatic stress," she explains. "Immigrant families often struggle to meet insurance co-payments, and culturally attuned therapists are in short supply."

"Spending state money this way has been controversial, with some advocates for those with mental illnesss arguing that gardens are an unaffordable frill in an era of diminishing resources."

Full Story: Seeking Serenity in a Patch of California Land


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