“Much of the current research on the mental health of new immigrants indicates that they are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems. According to a recent study published by Statistics Canada and the IRCC, when they arrive in Canada, immigrants are healthier than the Canadian-born population – a phenomenon called the “healthy immigrant effect”.”
CIC News September 9th, 2020
A new immigrant brings “healthy immigrant effect” which one would hope to see strengthen and spread as time goes. However, the initial positive euphoria slowly begins to wane due to a variety of stress inducing issues such as culture shock, isolation, poverty, having to work in low-paying jobs, pressure to support family members, language barriers and the hurdles in integrating into a whole new society. Declining immigrant mental health is real and a truly holistic approach will help stem the tide.
Community is the key to maintaining sanity when life gets tough. With covid-19 restrictions and an increasing dependence on the digital world, the word community assumes a whole new meaning. According to Wikipedia, an online community is a group of people with common interests who use the internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, video calls etc.) to communicate, work together and pursue their common interests over time.
A popular grand study conducted by Harvard researchers for over 8 years, reinforces the importance of community in well-being. They reported that those with strong interpersonal relationships were found happier or healthier, while those who were isolated and did not have a community to hold on to reported declined mental and physical health. Another 2007 report strongly suggests that social relationships matter the most for our happiness and mental health. Therefore make the most of what is available now – family, friends, your religious community, your work colleagues or your neighbors. Stay connected through the technologies available such as your phone, online social groups like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, Snapchat, etc. Also join online communities like the Immigrant Life – a community of supportive people who are happy to find you, help you. Offer your services to others in need. Be of service. Stay connected.
You can also seek professional help. Settlement agencies and local mental health care providers offer support services that are accessible to newcomers facing challenges. An Ontario-based organization places holistic mental health services at the heart of the settlement process for newcomers to Canada. The program is called the Newcomers’ Health and Well-Being Program designed to meet the needs of each newcomer in a personalized and comprehensive manner. Find out if there are similar programs available where you are based.
Life can and will throw curveballs at you. But if you build a community, you will not walk it alone. Taking a giant leap as moving countries and continents to restart life in a country like Canada can be tougher than we imagined. Sometimes it will feel painful, some days it will not be that bad. Whatever the situation you are in always be anchored to your community.