HealthcarePapers 18(2) September 2019 : 4-9.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2019.25926

Improving Mental Health Services for Immigrant, Racialized, Ethno-Cultural and Refugee Groups

Kwame McKenzie


Mental health problems are common and have a significant impact on people and their families, communities and the economy. Sixty percent of the population risk of illness is linked to the social determinants of health, and immigrant, refugee, ethno-cultural and racialized (IRER) groups have more exposure to these social factors. But one size does not fit all; the actual rates of mental health, mental illness or substance misuse for any IRER group depend on a complex interplay between risks and resilience. Disparities in rates of mental health, rates of illness and service use exist for IRER populations in Canada. Moving toward equity requires action on the social determinants of health to promote mental wellness as well as targeted action to prevent mental illness and increase the rates of recovery. Equitable mental health services require culturally competent staff, with interventions that work effectively for differently cultural groups and a system that allows equitable access.



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