Mental Health Promotion Among Newcomer Female Youth: Post-Migration Experiences and Self-Esteem

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By: Nazilla Khanlou, Morton Beiser, Ester Cole, Marlinda Freire, Ilene Hyman and Kenise Murphy Kilbride
Date: 2002

This report describes the findings of a study which examined mental health promotion issues of newcomer female youth attending secondary school. A particular attention was paid to influences promoting or challenging the youth's self-esteem.

The study was conducted in Toronto, Ontario and was influenced by a participatory action research framework. Data was gathered through focus groups with female youth and with school educators, parent interviews, and school and community health centre interviews. The emerging picture of the youth participants was of a dynamic self which drew from a rich source of experiences, knowledge, and sensitivity to context.

The youth identified multiple sources of influence on how they felt about themselves. Relationships with parents and friends played an important supportive role for the youth. One of the major concerns of the youth was their belief that they were not proficient in English. Systems issues which created settlement barriers for youth and their parents in Canadian society were identified. The youth evaluated their involvement in the study as a positive experience.

The report concludes with policy implications and recommendations for various systems. As part of this process, it is suggested that explication of values underlying policies and initiatives be a necessary component of mental health promotion strategies directed at newcomer female youth.

English and French.