Mental Health Consultation Among Ontario’s Immigrant Populations [2018]

To determine the prevalence rates and characteristics of past-year mental health consultation for Ontario’s adult (18 + years old) immigrant populations. The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2012 was used to calculate the prevalence rates of past-year mental health consultation by service provider type. Characteristics associated with mental health consultation were determined by carrying out multivariable logistic regression analysis on merged CCHS 2008–2012 data. Adult immigrant populations in Ontario (n = 3995) had lower estimated prevalence rates of past-year mental health consultation across all service provider types compared to Canadian-born populations (n = 14,644). Amongst those who reported past-year mental health consultation, 57.89% of Ontario immigrants contacted their primary care physician, which was significantly higher than the proportion who consulted their family doctor from Canadian-born populations (45.31%). The factors of gender, age, racial/ethnic background, education level, working status, food insecurity status, self-perceived health status, smoking status, alcohol drinking status, years since immigration, and age at time of immigration were significantly associated with past-year mental health consultation for immigrant populations. Ontario’s adult immigrant populations most commonly consult their family doctor for mental health care. Potential exists for expanding the mental health care role of primary care physicians as well as efforts to increase accessibility of specialized mental health services. Integrated, coordinated care where primary care physicians, specialized mental health professionals, social workers, and community educators, etc. working together in a sort of “one-stop-shop” may be the most effective way to mitigate gaps in the mental health care system. In order to effectively tailor mental health policy, programming, and promotion to suit the needs of immigrant populations initiatives that focus on the connection between physical and mental health and migration variables such as length of stay in Canada, years since immigration, and other important migration variables (beyond the scope of the CCHS which require further study) need to be developed. Examination of the social determinants of mental health is critical to understand how we can best serve the mental health needs of Ontario’s immigrant populations.

Farah Islam, Nazilla Khanlou, Alison Macpherson, Hala Tamim
Community Mental Health Journal, July 2018, Volume 54, Issue 5