As the number of people fleeing conflict in Syria continues to increase and expand across borders, providing adequate and proper mental health care to refugees in this crisis has become a central issue. With almost four million displaced persons from Syria, the corresponding mental health crisis is not new, as refugees have been experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety since the beginning of the five year old civil war. The importance of addressing this issue, however, is becoming more noticeable as the number of affected people continues to rise and the impact on neighboring populations becomes a global concern.
The experiences of the Syrian refugees highlights that mental health is affected by many factors.
While the refugee experience doesn’t always receive such intense media attention, the experiences of the Syrian refugees highlights that mental health is affected by many factors, including social and economic conditions. These social determinants of health can be more important than health care or lifestyle choices in influencing health.
CMHA Ontario recognizes that refugees and newcomers to Canada have diverse health needs, and is focused on addressing those needs in order to achieve health equity across the province. The notion that mental health is an integral part of overall health is key to achieving success in this regard.
For more information on some of the traumas experienced by refugee newcomers, visit the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT) website. CCVT provides support and counselling to newcomers who have suffered trauma as survivors of war.
For more information on equity and mental health, see our discussion paper.