Refugee and immigrant youth are more likely to end up in the emergency room during a mental health crisis than their Canadian-born peers, a new medical study shows

Not too surprising but nevertheless significant:

Refugee and immigrant youth are more likely to end up in the emergency room during a mental health crisis than their Canadian-born peers, a new medical study shows.

Newcomers did not seek early help from primary care doctors likely due to barriers in accessing and using outpatient mental health services, said researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Hospital for Sick Children.

“Efforts are needed to reduce stigma and identify mental health problems early, before crises, among immigrant populations,” said the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Tuesday.

Based on health and demographic data, researchers looked at emergency department visits for mental health issues by youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years in Ontario.

They identified a total of 118,851 young people who visited an ER with a mental health concern between 2010 and 2014, including 1.8 per cent or 2,194 refugees and 5.6 per cent or 6,680 non-refugee immigrants. The rest were Canadian.

“Most major mental illnesses have an age of onset in adolescence and young adulthood with about 20 per cent of youth experiencing mental illness. Our findings suggest that there are important subgroups of immigrant and refugee children who face barriers in accessing outpatient mental health care,” said study co-author Dr. Astrid Guttmann, chief science officer at ICES and staff pediatrician at Sick Kids.

“Interventions to improve access to the mental health system should consider the needs of specific immigrant populations.”

The gaps between immigrant and non-immigrant youth can be attributed to differences in culture, language proficiency, ability to navigate health services and even referral biases by health care providers, said the report.

While the majority of youth sought help for mental health issues at an emergency department first, the rate was higher for newcomers. The study found 61.3 per cent of refugee youth, 57.6 per cent of non-refugee immigrants and 51.3 per cent of Canadian youth went to an ER first.

Report lead author Dr. Natasha Saunders, a pediatrician at Sick Kids and adjunct scientist at ICES, said the differences are both statistically and clinically significant.

“Emergency services are important for managing acute mental health crises, but for most mental health disorders, primary care would be the most appropriate place for treatment and referral to specialized services,” she explained

“The high proportion of immigrant and refugee youth who have not been previously assessed for mental health problems suggests a need to understand specific cultural and other barriers and enabling factors related to the use of mental health services and access to care.”

Among all immigrants, recent arrivals had the highest proportion (64.3 per cent) of first contact in the emergency department, as did non-refugee immigrants from East Asia (61.7 per cent) and refugees from Africa (65.4 per cent), Central America (64.6 per cent) and East Asia (62.5 per cent).

Those who live in low-income and rural areas and those without OHIP coverage also had higher rates of first contact for mental health in the ER, said the report.

Source: Refugee and immigrant youth more likely to end up in ER during mental health crisis, study shows

Quebec’s immigration debate out is of whack with province’s youth

Not sure how representative this survey is of all Quebec youth given limited to three CEGEPs in Montreal but nevertheless interesting and reinforces overall pattern of youth being relatively more open and comfortable with diversity:

….Lost in the political noise last week was a study released by a team of scholars working under the backing of a radicalization research group at Cégep Édouard-Montpetit.

The group surveyed close to 1,000 students at thee mostly francophone Cégeps about their attitudes toward religion, immigration and extremism.

They found that 59 per cent either agreed, or strongly agreed, with the statement that immigrants in Quebec are well-integrated. About the same number disagreed with the idea that the province should accept fewer immigrants.

Strong majorities also indicated they wouldn’t be bothered by a teacher wearing a hijab, skullcap or cross.

Seven out of 10 said they didn’t believe banning religious symbols in public would do much to counter radicalization.

Asked what their major social and political concerns were, the Cégep students prioritized the environment, inequality and economic development over immigration.

This is not to suggest that a debate about immigration is not worth having.

But the findings from this study raise the question of whether the terms of the current immigration debate are at all relevant to the generation that will have to live with its consequences.

Quebec’s politicians are spending a lot of time worrying that newcomers are not fitting in. The province’s youth have moved on to the next question: What are we going to accomplish together?

Source: Quebec’s immigration debate out is of whack with province’s youth