How New Canadians Can Maintain Mental Health

Moving to a new country is a big step, and it comes with changes and, in some cases, mental strain. Here, our immigration physicians in Ottawa and Orleans share some ways that Canada helps newcomers maintain their mental health while settling.

The Mental Impact of Relocating

Newcomers to Canada may experience changes in their mental health. This can include being filled with mixed emotions and feelings upon arrival.

On the one hand, you are likely excited by all the new opportunities in front of you. On the other hand, you may also have fears, questions, and concerns about your new life. It's important to know that all of these feelings are perfectly normal.

Programs to Help You Maintain Good Mental Health

The good news is that the Canadian government has set up several services that can offer support in areas such as:

  • Providing information about your community
  • Connecting you with local people who can help with your transition
  • Providing non-clinical mental health and well-being support
  • Referring you to community health services and programs

The Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project provides newcomers with online training tools and resources to assist during the settlement process and access to social and health service professionals who specifically work with immigrants and refugees.

How Finances Can Impact Your Mental Health

Financial well-being plays a large role in feeling secure and mentally well once settled. You'll have enough on your plate when you settle into a new job, surrounded by new friends and peers, while potentially learning a new language and way of life. The last thing that should be added is financial stress. The Canadian government proudly provides certain benefits to help new residents offset costs and ease the transition into Canada.

The Canada Child Benefit is offered to all Canadian citizens with children. Its purpose is to help offset the cost of raising your children. This benefit is paid out until each of your children reaches 18 years of age.

You will also be entitled to the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit. This tax credit is designed to assist low-income and middle-class Canadians offset taxes paid on goods and services.

The Impact of Work on Your Mental Health

Employment is a common reason why many people make the move to Canada. Once here, it is important to achieve a healthy work-life balance, especially during such a busy time.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is an organization created to help employers create and maintain healthy workplaces. It does so by providing a set of standards and guidelines that assist employees as they enter the workforce. Before you accept any job offer, you can ask about the company support systems and programs in place to help you achieve good mental health while you settle into your new role.

Settling Into Your New Life in Canada

Remember to relax and breathe while settling into your new life. This transition will require patience and effort to be successful.

Being in a new environment can be quite jarring, but it is normal to feel anxious and even confused in your new home. Organizations like the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services can provide lessons about Canadian culture, customs, beliefs, and values. Making that effort and meeting new people will make that connection easier and help you build relationships with others who may be experiencing what you are facing.

While you are settling, it is important to keep in touch with your support systems in your home country. They can help you feel more grounded. You should also make efforts to stay active. Your mental and physical health are very much connected. By joining a gym or finding a fun outdoor activity to participate in, you can stay active, healthy and keep your spirits up.

Newcomers who settle in larger cities are likely to have more opportunities and resources available. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) provides many resources for those experiencing mental health challenges. This organization has 330 community locations across the country.

Along with CAMH-run initiatives, other mental health programs in Ontario include the Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program and BounceBack. These both allow for easy access to mental health resources including crisis intervention.

Remember that by coming to a new country and settling here, you’ve taken your first step on that journey. That’s the biggest step you’ll take.

Are you in the process of completing your application for Canadian residency? Please contact our panel physicians today to schedule your immigration medical exam.

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