The Wellbeing of Young Immigrants in Canada
by William Hickmott
RMIT University x UGTS
It has been well documented through multiple studies and papers that rates of first mental health contact in the emergency department were higher among refugees and non-refugee immigrant youth. Just over 61 percent of refugee youth had their first mental health care contact at the ER compared to 57 percent of non-refugee immigrants and 51 percent of Canadian-born youth.
Understanding the health care system in Canada can be the first point of concern, depending on the situation and if someone is experiencing a non-life-threatening medical emergency, the emergency room may not be the only option. Educating immigrant youth about first presentations of a mental health crisis may be made easier by accesses to more appropriate services. Also, more efforts are needed to reduce stigma and help identify mental health problems earlier before crisis occurs among the young immigrant population.
Although there is a need to identify poor mental health early so that solutions can be found before crisis situations occur within groups of young people, there is also an underlying need to address issues related to the poor mental health of minority groups. Homelessness is often associated with increased rates of mental health disorders, as is suicidality.
Dr. Kwame McKenzie, who works for the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health sates the following
“There’s a bit of poverty, there’s a bit of impact of culture, there’s a bit of the impact of where the services are and there's the impact of who offers the services and whether they speak your language”
He also says that “The problem isn’t that we don’t know what to do, the problem is trying to get the government to be interested in doing it”
Understanding these issues, the impact they have on the community has been well documented and there are outlining concerns but definite solutions, the next step is creating enough public interest in these social issues that the government takes notice and real change can start taking place.