- 1 Quick Facts
- 2 Concepts & Terminology
- 3 How to Learn More
- 4 Finding Mental Health Services for Ontario
- 5 Find Services
Mental Health in Canada
One in five Canadians under the age of 65 will have a mental health problem. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
Immigrants and refugees experience stresses associated with immigration and resettlement that may place them at increased risk of developing mental health problems. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario
Canadian newcomer mental health has been described in The Global City: Newcomer Health in 2011:
- Most newcomers arrive in better health, including mental health, than Canadian-born residents.
- Overall, newcomers lose their health advantage and their health declines over time.
- 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.
- Settlement is a health issue.
- 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.
- 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
Mental Health and Culture
Although mental illnesses have similar symptoms across cultures, their manifestations and how people describe and interpret symptoms vary with ethnicity and culture. For instance, some ethno-cultural groups are more likely to present emotional problems as physical problems. Similarly, stigma within a culture varies according to the cultural and sociological backgrounds of the community. There is evidence that ethnic minorities experience mental illness stigma more harshly than majority groups. Due to family-shared shame, and different cultural perceptions of mental illness and its causes, many members of minority groups delay treatment. Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario.
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, and 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
- Mental health can be conceptualized in terms of a continuum from wellness to illness instead of discrete states.
- Empowerment and capacity building
- Diversity and cultural competence
- Wellness and recovery; and community participation.
Common types of mental illnesses and their signs are described by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in the Mental Health and Addiction 101 Series.
Concepts & Terminology
Discover important concepts, definitions and terms relating to mental health in the settlement sector.
The WHO (World Health Organization) describes mental health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is the foundation for well-being of individuals, families and communities. The WHO defines mental health as “... a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
- Canadian Mental Health Association of Peel's terminology and determinants of health
- Public Agency of Health Canada terminology
Three ideas central to the improvement of health follow from the definition above:
- Mental health is an integral part of health
- Mental health is more than the absence of illness
- Mental health is intimately connected with physical health and behaviour.
How to Learn More
Further your knowledge with practical guides, best practices, projects and research.
Find out how to become qualified to work in the field through online or classroom-based training.
Best Practices/Practical Guides
- Alone in Canada: 21 Ways to Make It Better - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - 2001
- Best Practices: Somali Family Mental Health Support Program - Midaynta Association of Somali Service Agencies, Family Outreach & Response Program and Somaliland Canadian Society of Metro Toronto - 2005
- Best Practices Portal - Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Culture Counts: A Guide to Best Practices for Developing Health Promotion Initiatives in Mental Health and Substance Use with Ethnocultural Communities - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - 2012
- Guidebook on Vicarious Trauma: Recommended Solutions for Anti-Violence Workers - Health Canada - 2001
- Immigrant Settlement Counselling: A Training Guide/Module 7: Mental Health Issues - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) - 2000
- Refugee Mental Health:Promising Practices and Partnership Building Resources - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - 2010
- Report on the Promotion of Mental Health - World Health Organization (WHO) - 2004
- Individual and in-house group training for staff from immigrant service agencies whose positions are funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI)
- Cultural Competence E-Learning Modules Series - The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids)
- Journey to Promote Mental Health: A Training Series for Community Workers (Self-directed) - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) and Hong Fook Mental Health Association
- Mental Health and Addiction 101 Series - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- The Forensic Mental Health System in Ontario: An Information Guide - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- The Journey to Cultural Competence Film - The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids)
- Suicide Prevention Webinar Series - Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)
- Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre (MHCC)
- Recovery during Immigration and Settlement (RISE)
- Health Network (UHN) Clinics & Centres – Community Mental Health program
- ARQ2: Asking the right questions 2 - Talking With Clients about Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity in Mental Health, Counselling and Addiction Settings - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - 2007
- Backgrounder on Homeless Youth and Mental Health - Eva's Initiatives - 2012
- Canada's National Mental Health Strategy - Mental Health Commission of Canada - 2012
- CMAS (Childminding Advisory and Support) This includes, amongst others, tip sheets, "Care for Newcomer Children Requirements" and "Stress and Mental Health in the Newcomer Child"
- Improving Health Outcomes for Government Assisted Refugees – Final Report - PSTG Consulting for Citizenship and Immigration Canada - 2012
- Mental Health for Immigrants - Video of an ESL Class Workshop Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Toronto
- CMHA runs the Working Together: Across Cultures Project. In partnership with community, settlement, and employment organizations CMHA Toronto provides mental health capacity and cultural competency workshops to increase the quality of life of newcomers who are experiencing resettlement stress and mental health issues.
- Racialised Groups and Health Status - Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services - 2005
- State of Refugees: An Introduction to Refugee and Immigration Issues in Canada - Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) - 2008
Finding Mental Health Services for Ontario
- Challenges & Choices: Finding Mental Health Services in Ontario Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) $
- Children's Mental Health Ontario Website - Children's Mental Health Ontario (CMHO)
- ConnexOntario Health Service Information - ConnexOntario
- Immigrants and Refugees: Related Resources - Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
- Making Choices - Guide to Adult Mental Health Services and Supports in Toronto - Community Resource Connections of Toronto (CRCT) - 2011
- Mental Health: Your Mental Health, Understanding Mental Illness and Finding Help - Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
- Navigating Mental Health Services in Toronto. A Guide for Newcomer Communities - Community Resource Connections of Toronto (CRCT)
- Navigating the System - Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) of Ontario - 2008
- Types of Mental Health Services in Ontario - Ontario Mental Health Helpline