The process of immigration and settlement is inherently stressful, regardless of whether the move is for economic (to find work or pursue a specific career path); social (to improve one’s quality of life or be closer to family or friends); or political migration (moving to escape political persecution or war).
Coping with loss and separation from one’s homeland, family members, and familiar customs and traditions; being exposed to a new physical environment; and navigating unfamiliar cultural experiences are all possible outcomes of the immigration process. Adapting to a new work environment, finding a job, or settling into a new community can all add to the stress and anxiety.
Immigrants Life spoke with locally Toronto-based psychotherapist and founder of Talk Therapy with Vera, Vera Cheng about the psychological effects of immigration and how to overcome it.
“For many immigrants the symptoms of immigration is depression (low mood, hopelessness, helplessness, lack of motivation), grief (the loss of family that are back home), fear, panic (adjusting to new country environment), and anxiety (nervous, on edge, easily irritable, lack of concentration, lack of sleep and appetite),” said Cheng.
She went on to say that while the process can be difficult, it’s important to remember that these symptoms are only temporary until one adjusts to their new environment. According to research, settling in a new country and culture takes about three years.
Cheng suggested these following steps to cope with the stress of immigrating:
- Be open to learn about Canadian culture, its history and its people.
- Learn the local languages such as French.
- Seeking support from local settlement services centre or libraries – in 2019 the Ontario government launched the aholistic mental health services for the settlement process for newcomers to Canada.The Newcomers’ Health and Well-Being Program and funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to the tune of $2.2 million, is an initiative designed to meet the needs of each newcomer in a personalized and comprehensive manner.
- Canada, especially Toronto is one of the most diverse city’s in the world. Be curious about different cultures and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- Be patient with yourself.m It takes time to adjust so take it one day at a time
- Be open minded
- Reach out to friends and family back home to help with loneliness.
- Take good physical care of yourself. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and has a variety of other health benefits.
- Take care of your mental health. There is no shame in seeking counseling services, even if you are unsure about it: give it a shot!
- Create a sense of community. Forming friendships and other relationships can allow you to talk about your experiences and relieve some of the tension or stress you may be carrying around.
If you need assistance with mental anxiety as a newcomer contact Canada Mental Health Centre on +1 905-841-3977.