If you plan to move to Canada or have just settled here, and are feeling overwhelmed or anxious about your new chapter, know there is help. The country's Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has channeled funds into a program that deals with the mental health and well-being of newcomers to the Great White North as they adapt to their new environment. Let's examine the Canadian Mental Health Association's Newcomers' Mental Health and Well-Being Program.
The Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe
The Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe (CMHA-YRSS) in Ontario aims to fill the void that the newcomers' settlement services fail to provide, offering a variety of mental health and outreach programs, including assessments, counseling, and psychotherapy and trauma-specific services in a safe and welcoming environment to immigrants in Canada. These services use a screening tool specifically for immigrants and refugees, ensuring that spiritual and religious needs are considered.
In 2020, the CMHA-YRSS received support for a few years that helped them improve the community's ability to provide for the needs of immigrants in Canada. The organization provides equal-quality mental health services to newcomers and aims to ensure they live well-rounded and healthy lives in Canada.
The Newcomers’ Health and Well-Being (12+) Program
The Newcomers' Health and Well-Being Program makes mental health and primary care services available to newcomers. These services are available to newcomers aged 12 years and older. To access these services, you must live in the York Region and South Simcoe and have physical and mental health issues.
The organization provides a holistic approach to the treatment. The language, culture, and community a Newcomer is from are considered during counseling sessions. Sessions address trauma, bad memories, and reasons for the move. By attending these sessions, you can work on building on your strengths to allow you to thrive in your new setting.
What the Program Offers
The Newcomers’ Health and Well-Being (12+) Program provides the following services:
- Healthcare services ranging from nurse consultations to pharmacy services
- Health education
- Counseling and other support services
How You Can Manage Your Mental Health as You Settle in Canada
If you or a family member are in a situation where you need mental health support, you should contact one of the following:
- A doctor (the General Practitioner in your area)
- A social worker
- A psychologist
- A mental health nurse
- A counselor
- Your spiritual leader
- A crisis line or support group in the area you've settled in
- Find resources in your province or territory like the Newcomers' Mental Health and Well-Being Program
- Check out resources when visiting a service provider in your neighborhood
Mental Health Tips For Newcomers in Canada
Adjust Your Expectations
Finding the right job once you've just moved to Canada is difficult and can add a lot of pressure to an already stressful situation. Be realistic with your goals, and don't feel discouraged if you have to take a job that does not fit the scope of your dream job. Working towards your dream job is an admirable trait and a great way to promote self-confidence and optimism.
Grieve Your Loss
Leaving the only life you've known behind can be a very traumatic experience, not unlike the emotions felt when grieving a loss. Allow yourself to feel these emotions, and in doing so, you will eventually embrace all the opportunities ahead of you in Canada.
There are various informal support networks for newcomers in Canada, whether you find one that supports your religious affiliations, culture, country or basic interest. There are also groups that you will be able to take solace in and find the support that you need. With Canada being such a large country, you may also feel very lonely at times. Luckily, it is one of the most welcoming countries globally, so it is very rare that you will come across a Canadian that won’t welcome you into their community.
Ask For Help
There is no shame in asking for help if needed; your community will be more than willing to help you with anything. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but it shows the ability to recognize when you need help and allow others to help you. For help finding the assistance you need, the Government website has a helpful tool that will give you a list of newcomer services near you.
Bonus Tip: If you are immigrating from a country that has a warmer climate and is moving to colder regions with more extreme temperatures, like Nova Scotia, do yourself a favor and get yourself some Vitamin D. You will be receiving less sunshine which could lead to feelings of depression. Money well spent, we say!
Other Mental Health Organizations in Canada
When you move to Canada, you will have access to free mental health support regardless of where you settle. Wellness Together Canada is a service available to anyone in Canada, including permanent residents and newcomers, so check out this option.
You can also access assistance from settlement service providers, who can give you support such as:
- Information about the community you have just moved to
- Putting you in touch with locals
- Non-clinical mental health and well-being support
For services designed for newcomers to Canada,check out:
- Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Remember: You Are Not Alone
Almost a third of Canada's population is foreign-born, meaning that almost a third of the population has experienced what you are going through. More than likely, they will not only be able to help you but will also be able to give you advice to help make the transition easier. Once you feel like you are part of your community, you'll find that with that the network you build will play a huge role in your overall well-being as well.
Will I be Able to Access Universal Healthcare Once I Get to Canada?
If you have successfully obtained Canadian Permanent Residency, then yes, you will be able to access Universal Healthcare. If not, you must have medical insurance in place until you can become a permanent resident in Canada.
How Can Newcomers Who Are Children Access Counseling Services?
Newcomers aged five years old have access to confidential services from professional counselors on a 27/7 basis. You can call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.