CHILD IMMIGRANT POST-MIGRATION MENTAL HEALTH: A QUALITATIVE INQUIRY INTO CAREGIVERS’ PERSPECTIVES
Immigrant families and their children experience isolation after migration to Canada. Inadequate income, unemployment, and underemployment have all been identified as primary challenges to the mental health of immigrant families. This study qualitatively explored the perceptions of six Middle Eastern immigrant caregivers regarding their children’s post-migration mental health. The research was situated in the constructivist paradigm, and qualitative descriptive design was used to explore participant experiences. Interviews were conducted in English with three Farsi-speaking and three Arabic-speaking caregivers. Reflexive thematic analysis was performed. Three themes were developed: (a) parents feel their children are isolated and lonely; (b) caregivers’ limited access to resources impacts their children’s mental health; and (c) community connections enhance families’ mental health. Findings suggest children’s experiences with family separation and exposure to racism contributed to children’s loneliness. Children’s isolation was exacerbated by caregivers’ limited access to resources to support their children’s transition into Canada. Caregivers identified social support as an asset to their families’ mental health. This research highlights the importance of culturally responsive health, employment, and education policies, together with programs to provide resources for immigrant families to support their children’s mental health after migration.
Adler, N. E., & Rehkopf, D. H. (2008). U.S. disparities in health: Descriptions, causes, and mechanisms. Annual Review of Public Health, 29, 235–252. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.020907.090852
Allen, D., Benner, P., & Diekelmann, N. L. (1986). Three paradigms for nursing research: Methodological implications. In P. L. Chinn (Ed.), Nursing research methodology: Issues and implementation (pp. 23–38). Aspen.
Beiser, M. (2005). The health of immigrants and refugees in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health / Revue Canadienne De Sante Publique, 96(Suppl 2), S30–44. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03403701
Boivin, M., & Hertzman, C. (Eds.). (2012). Early childhood development: Adverse experiences and developmental health [Royal Society of Canada - Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Expert Panel (with Ronald Barr, Thomas Boyce, Alison Fleming, Harriet MacMillan, Candice Odgers, Marla Sokolowski)]. https://policycommons.net/artifacts/2039429/early-childhooddevelopment/2791872/
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). Can I use TA? Should I use TA? Should I not use TA? Comparing reflexive thematic analysis and other pattern‐based qualitative analytic approaches. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 21(1), 37–47. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12360
Bronfenbrenner, U., & Evans, G. W. (2000). Developmental science in the 21st century: Emerging questions, theoretical models, research designs and empirical findings. Social Development, 9(1), 115–125. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9507.00114
Brown, A., Spencer, R., McIsaac, J.-L., & Howard, V. (2020). Drawing out their stories: A scoping review of participatory visual research methods with newcomer children. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920933394
Bucci, M., Silvério Marques, S., Oh, D., & Harris, N. B. (2016). Toxic stress in children and adolescents. Advances in Pediatrics, 63(1), 403–428. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yapd.2016.04.002
The Canadian Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Timeline: Nova Scotia. Retrieved January 14, 2023, from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/timeline/novascotia?gclid=CjwKCAiAwomeBhBWEiwAM43YIHbvo2pbClucd4eNLycqqfpqeBDBPD95rYvvNk_hu_CW0hD0I250wBoCslAQAvD_BwE
Chang, C. D. (2019). Social determinants of health and health disparities among immigrants and their children. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 49(1), 23–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cppeds.2018.11.009
Choi, J., Kushner, K. E., Mill, J., & Lai, D. W. L. (2014). The experience of Korean immigrant women adjusting to Canadian society. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 29(3), 277–297. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10823-014-9235-8
Cole, S. F., Eisner, A., Gregory, M., & Ristuccia, J. (2013). Helping traumatized children learn: Creating and advocating for trauma sensitive schools. Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI). https://traumasensitiveschools.org/tlpi-publications/download-a-free-copy-of-a-guideto-creating-trauma-sensitive-schools/
Dastjerdi, M., & Mardukhi, A. (n.d.). Social factors affecting the well-being and mental health of elderly Iranian immigrant women in Canada. In N. Khanlou & F. Pilkington (Eds.), Women's mental health: Advances in mental health and addiction (pp. 83–95). Springer. Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-17326-9_6
De Maio, F. G., & Kemp, E. (2010). The deterioration of health status among immigrants to Canada. Global Public Health, 5(5), 462–478. https://doi.org/10.1080/17441690902942480
Fakhari, N. (2022). Child immigrant post-migration mental health: A qualitative inquiry into caregivers’ perspectives [Master’s thesis, Dalhousie University]. https://dalspace.library.dal.ca/bitstream/handle/10222/81722/NahalFakhari2022.pdf
Flouri, E., & Kallis, C. (2011). Adverse life events and mental health in middle adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 34(2), 371–377. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.04.001
Frank, L., Fisher, L., & Saulnier, C. (2021). 2020 report card on child and family poverty in Nova Scotia: Willful neglect?. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/2020-report-card-child-and-family-povertynova-scotia
Guruge, S., Lamaj, P., Lee, C., Ronquillo, C. E., Sidani, S., Leung, E., Ssawe, A., Altenberg, J., Amanzai, H., & Morrison, L. (2021). COVID-19 restrictions: Experiences of immigrant parents in Toronto. AIMS Public Health, 8(1), 172–185. https://doi.org/10.3934/publichealth.2021013
Hynie, M. (2018). The social determinants of refugee mental health in the post-migration context: A critical review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry / Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie, 63(5), 297–303. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743717746666
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. (2015, March 6). Report on plans and priorities 2015–2016. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugeescitizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/report-plans-priorities/2015-2016.html
Islam, F. (2015). Immigrating to Canada during early childhood associated with increased risk for mood disorders. Community Mental Health Journal, 51(6), 723–732. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-015-9851-y
Jacobson, M. R. (2021). An exploratory analysis of the necessity and utility of trauma-informed practices in education. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 65(2), 124–134. https://doi.org/10.1080/1045988X.2020.1848776
Khanlou, N. (2010). Migrant mental health in Canada. Canadian Issues, 9–16. https://multiculturalmentalhealth.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/httpcanada.metropolis.netpdfsimmi_healthImmigrant20Mental20Health20-20pgs9.pdf
Kia-Keating, M., & Ellis, B. H. (2007). Belonging and connection to school in resettlement: Young refugees, school belonging, and psychosocial adjustment. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 12(1), 29–43. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359104507071052
Klassen, A. F., Gulati, S., Watt, L., Banerjee, A. T., Sung, L., Klaassen, R. J., Dix, D., Poureslami, I. M., & Shaw, N. (2012). Immigrant to Canada, newcomer to childhood cancer: A qualitative study of challenges faced by immigrant parents. Psycho-Oncology, 21(5), 558–562. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.1963
Levendosky, A. A., Huth-Bocks, A. C., Shapiro, D. L., & Semel, M. A. (2003). The impact of domestic violence on the maternal-child relationship and preschool-age children’s functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 275–287. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-318.104.22.1685
Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. (1995). Social conditions as fundamental causes of disease. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Spec No, 80–94. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7560851/
Livingston, J., Patel, N., Bryson, S., Hoong, P., Lal, R., Morrow, M., & Guruge, S. (2018). Stigma associated with mental illness among Asian men in Vancouver, Canada. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 64(7), 679–689. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764018805125
Long, P. M. (2010). Improving health care system responses to chronic disease among British Columbia’s immigrant, refugee, and corrections populations: A review of current findings and opportunities for change. Prepared for the “Reducing Health Inequities: A Health System Approach to Chronic Disease Prevention” project steering committee, PHSA. Vancouver, BC: Provincial Health Services Authority.
Maguire, M., & Delahunt, B. (2017). Doing a thematic analysis: A practical, step-by-step guide for learning and teaching scholars. All Ireland Journal of Higher Education, 9(3), Article 3. https://ojs.aishe.org/index.php/aishe-j/article/view/335
Mauthner, N. S., & Doucet, A. (2003). Reflexive accounts and accounts of reflexivity in qualitative data analysis. Sociology, 37(3), 413–431. https://doi.org/10.1177/00380385030373002
McLaughlin, K. A., Greif Green, J., Gruber, M. J., Sampson, N. A., Zaslavsky, A. M., & Kessler, R. C. (2012). Childhood adversities and first onset of psychiatric disorders in a national sample of US adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 69(11), 1151–1160. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.2277
O’Mahony, J. M., Donnelly, T. T., Raffin Bouchal, S., & Este, D. (2013). Cultural background and socioeconomic influence of immigrant and refugee women coping with postpartum depression. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15, 300–314. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10903-012-9663-x
Owen, A. E., Thompson, M. P., & Kaslow, N. J. (2006). The mediating role of parenting stress in the relation between intimate partner violence and child adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 505–513. https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-322.214.171.1245
Patterson, B., Kyu, H. H., & Georgiades, K. (2013). Age at immigration to Canada and the occurrence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(4), 210–217. https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371305800406
Rezazadeh, M. S., & Hoover, M. L. (2018). Women’s experiences of immigration to Canada: A review of the literature. Canadian Psychology / Psychologie Canadienne, 59(1), 76–88. https://doi.org/10.1037/cap0000126
Salami, B., Alaazi, D. A., Ibrahim, S., Yohani, S., Scott, S. D., Vallianatos, H., Urichuk, L., & Islam, B. (2022). African immigrant parents’ perspectives on the factors influencing their children’s mental health. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 31(1), 142–154. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-021-02130-y
Salami, B., Alaazi, D. A., Okeke‐Ihejirika, P., Yohani, S., Vallianatos, H., Tetreault, B., & Nsaliwa, C. (2020). Parenting challenges of African immigrants in Alberta, Canada. Child & Family Social Work, 25(S1), 126–134. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12725
Salami, B., Salma, J., & Hegadoren, K. (2019). Access and utilization of mental health services for immigrants and refugees: Perspectives of immigrant service providers. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 28(1), 152–161. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12512
Sandelowski, M. (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in Nursing & Health, 23(4), 334–340. https://doi.org/10.1002/1098-240x(200008)23:4<334::aid-nur9>3.0.co;2-g
Sandelowski, M. (2010). What’s in a name? Qualitative description revisited. Research in Nursing & Health, 33(1), 77–84. https://doi.org/10.1002/nur.20362
Sonu, S., Post, S., & Feinglass, J. (2019). Adverse childhood experiences and the onset of chronic disease in young adulthood. Preventive Medicine, 123, 163–170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.03.032
Statista. (2023). Immigrants arriving in Canada by province 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/444906/number-of-immigrants-in-canada/
Statistics Canada. (2017, October 25). The Daily — Immigration and ethnocultural diversity: Key results from the 2016 Census. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/dailyquotidien/171025/dq171025b-eng.htm
Stewart, J. (2012). Transforming schools and strengthening leadership to support the educational and psychosocial needs of war-affected children living in Canada. Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, 6(3), 172–189. https://doi.org/10.1080/15595692.2012.691136
Stirling Cameron, E., Aston, M., Ramos, H., Kuri, M., & Jackson, L. (2022). The postnatal experiences of resettled Syrian refugee women: Access to healthcare and social support in Nova Scotia, Canada. Midwifery, 104, Article 103171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2021.103171
Thevenot, S. (2021, December 27). Immigration helps Nova Scotia’s population surpass 1 million, CIC News: The voice of Canadian immigration. https://www.cicnews.com/2021/12/immigration-helps-nova-scotias-population-surpass-1-million-1220434.html
Thompson, R., Wiley, T. R. A., Lewis, T., English, D. J., Dubowitz, H., Litrownik, A. J., Isbell, P., & Block, S. (2012). Links between traumatic experiences and expectations about the future in high risk youth. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4, 293–302. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023867
Wahyuni, D. (2012). The research design maze: Understanding paradigms, cases, methods and methodologies. Journal of Applied Management Accounting Research, 10(1), 69–80. https://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2103082
Walker, J., & Zuberi, D. (2020). School-Aged Syrian refugees resettling in Canada: Mitigating the effect of pre-migration trauma and post-migration discrimination on academic achievement and psychological well-being. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 21(2), 397–411. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-019-00665-0
Willis, D. G., Sullivan-Bolyai, S., Knafl, K., & Cohen, M. Z. (2016). Distinguishing features and similarities between descriptive phenomenological and qualitative description research. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 38(9), 1185–1204. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945916645499
Yang, F.-J. (2019). Is childhood migration a mental health risk? Exploring health behaviors and psychosocial resources as pathways using the cross-sectional Canadian Community Health Survey. Social Science Research, 83, Article 102303. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2019.04.016
Authors contributing to the International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies agree to release their articles under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 Unported license. This licence allows anyone to share their work (copy, distribute, transmit) and to adapt it for non-commercial purposes provided that appropriate attribution is given, and that in the event of reuse or distribution, the terms of this license are made clear.
Authors retain copyright of their work and grant the journal right of first publication.
Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
Rights Granted After Publication
After publication, authors may reuse portions or the full article without obtaining formal permission for inclusion within their thesis or dissertation.
Permission for these reuses is granted on the following conditions:
- that full acknowledgement is made of the original publication stating the specific material reused [pages, figure numbers, etc.], [Title] by/edited by [Author/editor], [year of publication], reproduced by permission of International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies [link to IJCYFS website];
- In the case of joint-authored works, it is the responsibility of the author to obtain permission from co-authors for the work to be reuse/republished;
- that reuse on personal websites and institutional or subject-based repositories includes a link to the work as published in the International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies; and that the material is not distributed under any kind of Open Access style licences (e.g. Creative Commons) which may affect the Licence between the author and IJCYFS.