EVIDENCE SNAPSHOTS OCT 2021

EVIDENCE SNAPSHOT

 

Perspectives of service agencies on factors influencing immigrants’ mental health in Alberta, Canada


AUTHORS    Dominic A. Alaazi, Salima Meherali, Esperanza Diaz, Kathleen Hegadoren, Neelam Punjani, Bukola Salami

LOCATION   Alberta


Summary

Newcomers to Canada experience resettlement challenges that affect their mental well-being. Guided by an intersectionality theoretical framework, we sought the perspectives of immigrant service agencies on factors influencing immigrants’ mental health in Alberta, Canada.  Data were collected by means of qualitative interviews and focus groups with immigrant service providers. Our data analysis identified seven themes – precarious immigration status, employment discrimination, social isolation, socioeconomic pressures, sociocultural stress, gender and age-related vulnerabilities, and lack of appropriate mental health supports – reflecting the major intersecting determinants of immigrants’ mental health. We propose policy interventions for addressing the mental health vulnerabilities of immigrants.

How does this research apply to my work?

This article integrates the perspectives of service providers perspectives on the determinants of mental health for immigrants and refugees. The key findings - including precarious immigration status, employment discrimination, social isolation, socioeconomic pressures, sociocultural stress, gender and age-related vulnerabilities, and lack of appropriate mental health supports – are important to consider during service provision.

What should I take away from this research?

Despite the widespread   nature   of   these   mental   health risks, Canada’s mental health support system appears to be culturally unprepared to accommodate the mental health needs of most immigrants. The overall impact of these intersecting influences has been the erosion of the ‘healthy immigrant effect’ after a period of stay in Canada (Islam, 2013; Vang et al., 2015).  The authors believe that the interaction of these determinants contributes to menta health degradation for immigrants in Alberta.

What’s the next step?

The findings support earlier suggestions to redirect discursive explanations of immigrants’ health to focus more on structural-level influences. In this regard, the authors recommend the adoption of a social determinants of health framework for addressing the mental health vulnerabilities of immigrants. Such an approach might include adopting  policy interventions, institutional practices, and support systems that address precarious immigration status, poverty, unemployment, service inaccessibility, and sociocultural stress among immigrants.

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