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Head.jpgNOTE: THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Settlement workers need to have basic knowledge of health services to connect newcomers to. They need to have enhanced capacity to detect early signs of health issues in immigrants and refugees, and strengthened ability to connect those at risk to the appropriate services.

Quick Facts

Newcomer Health in Canada

1. Most newcomers arrive in better health, including mental health, than Canadian-born residents.
2. Overall, newcomers lose their health advantage and their health declines over time.
3. Newcomers have diverse health needs. Certain newcomer sub-populations are at higher risk for specific mental health issues, including women, low income newcomers, some racialized newcomers and refugees.
4. Settlement is a health issue.
5. Newcomers experience multiple barriers to accessing necessary services. This includes access for mental healthcare and services for newcomers to specialists, counselling and therapy, and education and prevention programs.
6. Newcomers' health knowledge and positive behaviours should be acknowledged and promoted.

Social Determinants of Health

  • Social factors may have an influence over a life course to increase or decrease someone‟s risk of developing a mental health problem or illness. Some increase vulnerability while others act as factors that precipitate illness. Some prolong illness and still others prevent illness and restore health.
  • Vulnerability at specific transitions in life, such as during migration, are due to a significant increase in life stresses at a time when the social safety-net may not be as strong.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) lists 12 determinants of health. With the exception of the biology and genetic endowment determinant, the rest of the 11 of these determinants could be considered social determinants of health and may be particularly pertinent to immigrant and refugee groups. In addition, an important determinant of health that is relevant to immigrants and refugees is their migration experience and immigration category. The Global City: Newcomer Health in 2011

Health and Culture

Concepts, Skills & Terminology

Discover important concepts, definitions and terms relating to mental health in the settlement sector.





Cultural Competence

Although there is no universally accepted definition of cultural competence, the common elements are the key principles of cultural competence, such as inclusiveness, holistic health, anti-oppression, and valuing diversity have been recommended for practice in settlement service delivery for immigrants and refugees. Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs, 2009

Rationale for Cultural Competence in Service Delivery:

  • Ontario’s demographics have become vastly diverse. This diversity goes beyond language and culture.
  • Service providers are finding it increasingly challenging to provide adequate mental health care to diverse populations.
  • Evidence shows differential and inadequate levels of service for particular marginalized populations, resulting in negative health outcomes.Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs - 2009

Benefits for Cultural Competence Approach in Service Delivery include:

  • Improved access for underserved groups.
  • Improved service quality.
  • Greater satisfaction with services received.
  • Reduced health disparities.

In order to provide culturally safe services to respond to the diverse needs of Canadians immigrant and newcomer groups, service providers need to communicate and practice in a way that takes into account the social, political,
linguistic and spiritual realities of individuals seeking our support while working in partnership with them. (Mental Health Commission of Canada - 2009).

Some Guiding Principles for Dealing with Mental Health in Settlement Work

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