An Ontario-based organization places holistic mental health services at the heart of the settlement process for newcomers to Canada.
Called the Newcomer Health and Wellness Program and funded by IRCC to the tune of $ 2.2 million, this new initiative is designed to meet the needs of each newcomer in a personalized way. and complete.
The Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe (CMHA-YRSS) – a branch of a national non-profit organization serving York Region in the Greater Toronto Area – is the originator of the new initiative focused on improving mental health and well-being. results for immigrants and refugees aged 12 and over.
Much of the current research on the mental health of new immigrants indicates that they are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. According to a recent study published by Statistics Canada and IRCC, upon arrival in Canada, immigrants are healthier than the Canadian-born population – a phenomenon known as the “healthy immigration effect”. However, due to the stresses and strains of cultural differences, language barriers, and the process of integrating into a new society, this initial health benefit often disappears.
“Some of the mental health issues seen by the newcomer population include PTSD resulting from experiences in their home country, acculturative stress, bereavement, and loss,” said Jun Maranan, director of services for the well. -be newcomers to ACSM-YRSS, to CIC News.
“Studies also show that the refugee and immigrant population is experiencing a significant increase in incidents of mental distress, depression, anxiety, and the effects of trauma.”
Settlement agencies and local mental health providers offer accessible support to newcomers facing these challenges, but most of the existing resources are not designed with the specific and unique realities of immigrant populations in mind.
Some newcomers may also not be aware of the many services available to them, while others may be reluctant to seek help.
The new CMHA-YRSS program aims to fill all of these gaps. Launched last August, the program includes a wide range of mental health and awareness activities. These include mental and physical health assessment, counseling and psychotherapy, health and wellness promotion and training, family counseling, as well as trauma-specific services.
An important part of the program is creating safe and welcoming spaces for the delivery of mental health services.
“Interpretation will be used to ensure that services are provided in clients’ preferred language, the screening tool used is a tool specifically designed for immigrants and refugees. The services will be provided in a space they are familiar with” Maranan explained.
“There will also be considerations on the different ways of describing mental health experiences and ensuring that clients’ spiritual and religious needs are met.”
The new ACSM-YRSS program was developed with the understanding that immigrants are a diverse group and that each of them has very different ways of dealing with stress and adversity in their lives. It is therefore important to provide care to each person in a way that takes into account the diversity of their origins.
For this reason, culturally appropriate mental health awareness will play a key role in how settlement agencies and community care providers involved in the new program will be encouraged to participate in the care delivery process.
“It [means] making sure community members know what to look for when working with newcomers and ways they can explain they are in mental distress without specifically discussing health. mental. It will also take into account the experiences of newcomers and the various experiences that can cause them mental distress, ”said Maranan.
ACSM-YRSS received three years of funding for the project with the possibility of a two-year extension. Part of the program will therefore focus on building the capacity of the community to meet the needs of newcomers and ensure that they continue to be supported beyond the duration of the program.
With the current Canadian population of 7.5 million immigrants expected to nearly double by 2036, it is increasingly important to understand and support the physical and mental health of all newcomers.
The Newcomer Health and Wellness Program shows that governments and local community organizations are committed to ensuring that all people living in Canada have access to equitable and quality mental health services to help them survive. lead a full, meaningful, and successful life.