Mental health report focuses on multicultural groups

CALGARY, March 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Statistics Canada is predicting that 1 in 3 Canadians will belong to a visible minority by 2031. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has released a report addressing the needs of multicultural, immigrant and refugee groups. The study is part of its mandate to improve mental healthcare across all areas of Canadian society.

"These groups face unique challenges and are more exposed to factors that promote mental health problems and illnesses," says Steve Lurie, Chair of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Committee.

The document, titled 'Improving Mental Health Services for Immigrant, Refugee, Ethno-cultural and Racialized (IRER) Groups,' outlines factors that policy makers and service providers may want to consider when working to improve mental health services for these groups.

"Migration, discrimination, language barriers and lack of awareness of services have an impact on mental health," says Lurie. "Trust in services, cultural competence, targeted health promotion, and stigma can all delay access to treatment."

The 16 recommendations in the report are firmly rooted in the goals of the Mental Health Strategy for Canada. The recommendations fit into one of three main areas, including:

    -  Better coordination of policy, knowledge and accountability

    -  The Involvement of communities, families, and people with lived

    -  More appropriate and improved services

The report was prepared by the Diversity Task Group, a subcommittee of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Group. For more details on the recommendations, see the attached backgrounder. To read the report please visit:

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a non-profit organization created to focus national attention on mental health issues. The MHCC does not provide services, but rather acts as a catalyst for action. The Service Systems Advisory Committee is one of 8 MHCC committees tasked with making a difference in targeted areas. The other seven are: Child and Youth; Mental Health and the Law; Seniors; First Nations, Inuit and Métis; Workforce; Family Caregivers; and Science.


Improving mental health services for immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups: Issues and options for service improvement

The report was prepared by the Diversity Task Group, a subcommittee of the Commission's Service Systems Advisory Committee and the Social Equity and Health Research department of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Ontario.

The report's plan is firmly rooted in the Commission's development of a Mental Health Strategy for Canada.

There are five groups of actions required to improve mental health services for IRER groups:

    1. Changed focus - an increased emphasis on prevention and promotion
    2. Improvement within services - organisational and individual cultural
    3. Improved diversity of treatment - diversity of providers, evaluation
       of treatment options
    4. Linguistic competence - improved communication plans and actions to
       meet Canada's diverse needs
    5. Needs linked to expertise - plans to offer support by people and
       services with expertise to areas with lower IRER populations so they
       can offer high quality care

    Sixteen specific recommendations have been made:

    CATEGORY 1: Co-ordination of policy, knowledge and accountability

    1. Each province and territory should include strategies and performance
    measures in their mental health plans to address the needs of immigrant,
    refugee, ethno-cultural, and racialized (IRER) groups.

    2. Each province should gather data on the size and the mental health
    needs of their IRER populations. They should plan their services based on
    this population data.

    3. The mental health strategy of each province should consider a cross-
    sectoral plan for improving the social determinants of mental health
    problems and illness for IRER groups.

    4. A virtual national centre for research into the mental health and
    mental health problems and illness in IRER groups should be developed.
    The Centre could perform a regular one-day mental health census of mental
    health care service use and a community needs survey sampled by province.

    5. Health Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the
    provinces and territories should produce a research and development fund
    for studies aimed at answering strategic policy and practice questions
    for IRER groups' mental health and service provision. For instance there
    is an urgent need for Canadian research into the identification and
    evaluation of culturally appropriate systems of care for immigrant
    children and youth.

    CATEGORY 2: The involvement of communities, families and consumers

    6. A central part of each provincial and regional plan to improve the
    mental health of immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized groups
    must include the involvement of IRER communities, consumers, and families
    in planning, decision-making, implementation, and evaluation.

    CATEGORY 3: More appropriate and improved services

    7. Health funders should require that service providers take steps to
    attract a more diverse workforce and that there is a monitoring of the
    workforce to assess how it reflects the communities being served.

    8. Service provider organizations and provincial ministries should
    develop strategies to enable good candidates from IRER groups to advance
    into appropriate leadership positions within their organizations.

    9. Each service provider should have an organizational cultural
    competence strategy.

    10. Cultural competence training should be made available to all who have
    direct contact with clients and should be provided to existing staff in
    all service organizations.

    11. Cultural competence training should become a standard part of the
    training of all professional care staff. This should be insured through
    standards of accreditation of training programs and institutions and
    licensing professions.

    12. Provinces and territories should encourage diversity in the
    organizations that provide care, the models of care used, and the sites
    at which care is offered in order to meet the mental health needs of IRER

    13. A knowledge transfer strategy for promising practices in the delivery
    of care to IRER groups developed and implemented so that the most
    effective models are known to and can be deployed by providers.

    14. A linguistic competence strategy should be mandatory for local/
    regional service providers and funding for this should be provided by
    their funders.

    15. A virtual centre of excellence in the treatment and support of
    immigrant and IRER groups should be developed.

    16. The MHCC could develop a project similar to the national homelessness
    demonstration project to plan, document and evaluate promising practice
    in the development of diversity strategies in at least five communities
    across the country.

    To read the full report please go to:

    For more information please contact: Karleena Suppiah, Communications
    Specialist, (403) 385-4050,

SOURCE Mental Health Commission of Canada

For further information: For further information: Karleena Suppiah, Communications Specialist, (403) 385-4050 or (403) 370-3835 (cell),

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890