Immigration to Canada is considered to be a dream-come-true for many people. Canada has a reputation as a free, multi-cultural, peaceful country in which all types of people have access to building a successful, healthy life. Many different people immigrate and seek refuge in Canada from all over the world and undoubtedly many of them are shocked by the new struggles that they face in this “ideal” country. Mental health issues are prevalent for many Canadian newcomers for many different reasons, and unfortunately, treatment is not always readily available to these groups.
First of all, it is apparent that culture shock, racism, classism, religious persecution, fear and general oppression can create psychological stress, which often leads to the development of mental health issues. Although Canada is reputable for being an accepting nation, many communities are plagued with racial tension and discrimination exists in all levels of society. Mullaly writes that “almost all oppressed groups suffer systemic violence simply because they are members of a subordinate group
(2007, p. 168).” When people are often subjected to subtle and blatant forms of violence, they will feel the effects psychologically and even physically. Also, many people arrive in Canada with mental health issues due to the dangerous or unequal conditions that they faced in their homelands.
Additionally, people who are experiencing these issues often have a hard time acquiring the means for support and treatment for many different reasons. Over the last three decades, the number of immigrants arriving in Canada has increased which puts a “greater emphasis on health care providers and the health care system to provide culturally appropriate and equitable care
(Donnely, 2010, abstract).” Often immigrants access a mental health system which is culturally biased and will often fail to understand or address the social, economic and historical issues that these people face (Donnely, 2010). Frequently, even issues such as language barriers and lack of access to social assistance can create situations in which a person in need of help cannot access it.
“Social and psychological resources (sense of coherence, coping strategies and social support) have been found to be determining factors in an individual's adjustment to a new society
(Ruhi, 2010).” When these resources are lacking, the ability to become comfortable and successful in a new country is hindered. While these resources may have been readily available in their homelands, they are often unavailable or unattainable in a new Western home. Until Canada is able to present a culturally appropriate and universally accessible mental (and physical) health care system, the newcomers to this country will continue to feel the psychological stress of their past and, conceivably, their present and future.
Donnely, J. M. (2010). A Postcolonial Feminist Perspective Inquiry into Immigrant Women’s Mental Health Care Experiences. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 440-449.
Mullaly, B. (2007). The New Structural Social Work (third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Ruhi, T. J. (2010). Predictors of psychological well-being of Pakistani immigrants in Toronto, Canada. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 452-464.