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What are the psychological services for refugees in Toronto?

Children hugging each other

Children hugging each other

What are the psychological services for refugees in Toronto?

Leaving one’s nation of origin is painful and frequently has lasting psychological effects for refugees. The travel itself is frequently unpredictable and perilous, and the loss of one’s home, neighbourhood, and familiarity can be extremely harmful to one’s mental health.

What are the impacts of refuge?

Psychological effects of refugees leaving their home countries include loss and trauma. In addition to losing their loved ones, communities, and possessions, refugees may have been subjected to conflict or persecution. Their exposure to violence and other atrocities may have also caused psychological and emotional trauma, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Refugees who have witnessed violence and other actions are far more likely to have symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and despair, according to a journal published by the American Psychological Association. The study also discovered that trauma made a person “trapped in the past,” affecting their ability to see the future.

Another significant psychological effect of refugees leaving their native nations is the loss of identity. For refugees who fled their native nations, losing one’s culture, language, and way of life can be alienating. This may lead to emotions of isolation and confusion in the new host nation. A study that appeared in Canadian Psychology found that refugees often experience a sense of disconnection from their new environment and struggle to find a sense of belonging.

There may be various rules governing child care, health and safety, and other practices, which can forcefully alter the refugee’s prior ways of living, such as parenting. Older immigrants are especially susceptible to social exclusion and isolation because of prejudice, language challenges, cultural differences, and the dynamics of family caregiving according to a journal published the BMC Geriatrics.

What are the struggles of refugees when they land in Canada?

When refugees arrive in Canada, they are confronted with numerous difficulties. Language barriers are among the most significant challenges that refugees face when arriving in Canada. Many refugees fled from countries where English or French was not the main language, and many did not have any formal schooling before coming to Canada. Language barriers can lead to social exclusion and isolation, making it difficult for refugees to integrate into Canadian society.

Access to healthcare is another problem that refugees encounter after arriving in Canada. Many refugees who have experienced trauma or who have ongoing medical needs may not be familiar with the Canadian healthcare system. According to a report by the Canadian Council for Refugees, language barriers, a lack of knowledge, administrative barriers, and cultural barriers prevent many refugees from accessing health services or make it difficult for them to do so.

Upon arrival in Canada, housing and employment pose a significant challenge to refugees. Refugees may have limited financial and educational resources when they first arrive in Canada, making it difficult for them to obtain suitable accommodation and employment. Also, when locating suitable housing and employment, refugees may have particular religious and/or cultural demands that must be met.

Refugees are often faced with discrimination and prejudice when finding suitable housing and employment according to a report by the Canadian Council for Refugees. Many refugees who arrive in Canada are not provided with proper and adequate housing, either due to a lack of accommodation from the government and refugee settlement organizations or from landlords that are hesitant to rent to refugees due to language barriers, lack of Canadian credit history, discrimination, and the sense of risk.

Refugees that seek employment in Canada face significant challenges. Refugees seeking employment may be faced barriers such as language, work experience, or Canadian credentials required to find proper employment, making it difficult to support themselves and their families, according to a journal by New Iraqi J Med. Cultural barriers and discrimination also affect their chances in the job market, further impeding their ability to find work.

What is the importance of mental health services for refugees in Ontario?

It is crucial for refugees to have access to mental health treatments due to the difficulties of adjusting to a new culture and environment, past traumatic experiences, and the stress of moving to a new country.

As a result of all these difficulties and more, refugees are frequent victims of a variety of mental health conditions. Having access to mental health services is a must for refugees. Mental health services are needed in order to better their well-being and cope with the stress and trauma they have experienced. Nevertheless, there are difficulties accessing and receiving these services, such as language barriers, a lack of information, and administrative issues. Counselling, therapy, medication, community-based initiatives, and support groups are just a few of the mental health services that can be provided. By addressing and attending to the mental health needs of refugees, they will be better suited for integrating into their new communities, forming social connections and networks, and contributing to their new country socially and economically.

Where can refugees receive mental health services in Toronto?

Organizations like CAMH and the UNHCR have programs and services. For instance, CAMH’s The Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project is in place to increase access to mental health care for refugees in order to address the issues that refugees face. The Canadian government also runs other programs, such as the Interim Federal Health Program for refugee claimants that provides coverage for mental health care and other health-related care.

Services for mental health are essential for refugees who have undergone trauma and stress. By providing accessible and culturally sensitive mental health services, refugees can better cope with their experiences, build social connections, and be a part of and contribute to their new communities in Canada.

At Therapedia Centre, psychotherapists from different cultural backgrounds offer psychotherapy in Farsi, Portuguese and Mandarin. To find out more about the online and in person therapy services, contact us.














Kira, I. A., Lewandowski, L., Templin, T., Ramaswamy, V., Ozkan, B., & Mohanesh, J. (2008). Measuring cumulative trauma dose, types, and profiles using a development-based taxonomy of traumas. Traumatology: An International Journal, 14(2), 62-87. doi:

Hadfield, K., Ostrowski, A., & Ungar, M. (2017). What can we expect of the mental health and well-being of syrian refugee children and adolescents in canada? Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 58(2), 194-201. doi:

Lai DWL, Li J, Ou X, Li CYP. Effectiveness of a peer-based intervention on loneliness and social isolation of older Chinese immigrants in Canada: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatr. 2020 Sep 21;20(1):356. doi: 10.1186/s12877-020-01756-9. PMID: 32958076; PMCID: PMC7507625.

Canadian Council for Refugees, “Refugee Health Survey By Province And By Category. Montreal: Canadian Council for Refugees” (2015)

Canadian Council for Refugees, “State of Refugees: An Introduction to refugee and immigration issues in Canada” (2008)

Jamil H, Kanno SS, Abo-Shasha R, AlSaqa MM, Fakhouri M, Arnetz BB. Promoters and barriers to work: a comparative study of refugees versus immigrants in the United States. New Iraqi J Med. 2012;8(2):19-28. PMID: 25745518; PMCID: PMC4347467.–projects/immigrant-and-refugee-mental-health-project

Specific Aim 3: Convergent, Divergent, and Predictive Validity

We anticipated that CT (trauma dose) predicts PTSD, poor health, and CTD. We expected that cumulative trauma has deleterious effects on futuristic orientation as it can make a person stuck in the past. CT scale scores were found to be significantly correlated (*** indicates p < .001) with torture severity scores (.66***) and backlash trauma scale scores (.34***), which suggests adequate convergent validity. They were significantly negatively correlated with sociocultural adjustment (−.29***) and futuristic orientation (−.25***). This suggests adequate divergent validity. They are positively correlated with PTSD (.54***), CTD (.24***), and poor health (.37***), which suggests potential predictive validity.




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