New Canadians Stress and Depression
Article currently published in April edition of Hi-Rise Community Newspaper
Canada’s new immigrant population faces myriad challenges when joining us here, in search of a new and different life. These difficult adjustments frequently lead to depressive symptoms for these courageous people. If you are a new-comer to Canada this is likely obvious, if you are not, this article may contain some new ideas.
Moving an entire family is a huge step, and only the beginning. Coming to Canada often involves changes in economic and social status, loss of income potential and a strong, supportive family network. So upon arrival the loss and fears faced are already enormous and now…learning or improving new languages, getting a job in Canada (where likely educational requirements are different and restrictive) in a country that has exhibited more and more racism and prejudice recently, especially since traumatic experiences, like 9/11 and other terrorist acts.
All of these transitions involve a complete change of lifestyle and values. Many of these changes are forced on newcomers and involve having to give up the celebrations, rituals and formal/daily dress that are grounded in thousands upon thousands of years of tradition and religious beliefs. However, many feel they must change to ‘fit in’ and be successful in Canada. At other times it is a legal requirement.
This initial cultural clashing will eventually lead to an adaptation of sorts, but the result can involve incredible loss and numerous fears. New Canadians are now building their family here and need to find the balance of instilling values within their family unit that will enable their children to thrive in Canada, but also be grounded in their cultural and religious traditions within a Canadian culture that is often far more permissive. Gender roles and interactions are often also extremely different.
The result is often psychological, emotional and physical symptomatology experienced as what we refer to as Depression, here in Canada. Disappointments are often experienced and social isolation can be the result.
It takes incredible courage and perseverance to immigrate to Canada. I do not think I would do as well as most of these amazing new Canadians do. They face great challenges and deserve compassion and respect. I welcome you new Canadians. I am glad you are here.