Goal 3: Good Health & Well-being
Fatima Ahmad & Ashley Villaflores
How Might We...
support the mental health of racialized immigrant youth in Canada?
As youth and adults are at different stages of their lives, the way they adapt and integrate into a new society also varies.
Immigrant youth are figuring out their identities and understanding where they belong in society -- all while helping the adults in their lives understand a new language and a different culture. Mental health issues often arise during this process, and there is a lack of services that appropriately support their cultural and linguistic needs. There is research done on how migration affects the mental health of adult immigrants, yet there isn’t enough information on how it affects immigrant youth. With issues such as parentification, alienation and assimilation arising during the integration process, more research needs to be done to find out how we can better support immigrant youth.
There are lots of cultural stigmas associated with mental health in the overall immigrant community. People often neglect seeking out help or talking about things because mental health concerns are not taken seriously. They are seen as simply being “weak-minded” and emotional well-being is hardly ever discussed in these households. Coming from personal experience, children of immigrant parents often take on a lot of the burdens and pressures of their families, which amplifies internalized problems that they are already facing due to identity problems, as well as academic, cultural and social pressure. I feel that bringing awareness to the reality of mental health in the racialized community and having proper support networks and services will help reduce stigma and help future youth to not feel alone in battling these very real issues so they can better thrive in all areas of life.
My interest in this topic was inspired by my own personal experience of not having the appropriate kind of support that I needed when I was going through the settlement process. The research on how migration affects one’s mental health has so much focus on adults, but not so much on youth who have issues that they don’t share with adults. With this topic, I want to highlight the complex issues that racialized immigrant youth go through and start a conversation about providing appropriate support for them.