Immigrants and refugees may have different reasons for migrating—in general, immigrants come to Canada hoping for a better life, while refugees seek protection from war, organized violence and persecution.
Newly-arrived immigrants have better mental and physical health than the Canadian-born population. Many refugees have undergone difficult and traumatic pre-migration experiences that constitute salient risks to their mental health. With time in Canada, however, both immigrants’ and refugees’ mental and physical health declines. This is even more apparent for specific subpopulations, such as immigrants from racialized groups or low-income immigrants and refugees. Furthermore, immigrants and refugees tend to experience disparities in their access to services, quality of care and health outcomes.
A blanket approach to service models is not effective. The need for a better understanding of strategies that work in immigrant and refugee mental health, more appropriate support, inter-sector collaboration and more diversity in mental health service provision has been well-recognized.
Access to care and the time taken to receive appropriate care and support have major impacts on treatment outcomes. As a service provider, you are in a key position to support immigrants and refugees during this crucial post-migration period, to promote their mental and overall health.
Populations at a glance
Canada is home to millions of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. More than 200,000 immigrants and 25,000 refugees each year contribute to the increasing diversity of our population. Here’s a look at present and projected demographics for our population: