Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Sense of Place and Mental Wellness of Visible Minority Immigrants in Hamilton, Ontario: Revelations from Key Informants

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Sense of Place and Mental Wellness of Visible Minority Immigrants in Hamilton, Ontario: Revelations from Key Informants

Article excerpt


This paper explores key informants' revelations on immigrants' sense of place and mental wellness in Hamilton, Ontario, directed toward processes and programs that challenge belongingness and integration. Grounded in key informant interviews, our analysis underscores the importance of understanding immigrants' sense of community, belonging embedded in socioeconomic conditions, and implications on mental wellness. It is proposed that settlement service providers and other stakeholders adopt a broad and multifaceted approach that recognizes the importance of addressing immigrants' conditions in a holistic manner. This could be achieved by focusing on policies that affect all determinants of health (including mental health) through the integration of public policies into a comprehensive package of health improvement and promotion strategies, and should be incorporated into policies of health and health-related institutions for implementation.


Ce papier explore les indicateurs importants des revelations sur le sens du lieu et de la sante mentale a Hamilton, en Ontario, orientes vers des processus et des programmes qui remettent en question l'appartenance et l'integration. Fondee sur des entrevues avec indicateurs specifiques, notre analyse met en exergue l'importance de comprendre le sens de la communaute chez les immigrants, leur appartenance renforcee a des conditions socio-economiques, et leur implication dans la sante mentale. On propose ainsi que les pourvoyeurs des services d'etablissement et d'autres parties prenantes adoptent une approche plus globale et multiforme, qui reconnaisse l'importance d'aborder les conditions des immigrants de maniere holistique. Ceei pourrait etre fait en mettant l'accent sur les politiques qui affectent tous les determinants de la sante (y compris la sante mental), a travers l'integration des politiques publiques dans le dispositif global de l'amelioration de la sante et des promotions strategiques, et qui devraient etre incorporees dans les politiques de la sante ainsi que dans les institutions reliees a la sante pour leur realisation.


Like many developed nations, immigrants represent a significant proportion of the total population (approximately 20.6%) of Canada (Statistics Canada 2011). Immigrants go through rigorous health screening to ensure that they are healthy before they are admitted, with immigrants having a relative health advantage over the general population, a common phenomenon known as the 'healthy immigrant effect' (i.e., Ali 2002; McDonald and Kennedy 2004; Newbold and Danforth 2003). However, the health of immigrants has been observed to deteriorate within a few years of arriving in Canada, with the decline in immigrants' physical and mental health said to be the result of pre-migration, migration and post-migration stressors associated with acculturation, barriers to health care, and/or changing diets (Pumariega et al. 2005; Dean and Wilson 2010), suggesting that there are factors within the host society that negatively affect the health of immigrants (McDonald and Kennedy 2004; Newbold 2005; Ali 2002; Ng et al. 2005).

Most research on immigrants' health has focused on post-migration factors of health, presumably due to a lack of data on pre-migration and migration experiences of immigrants. While Canadian scholars have given considerable attention to immigrants' physical and mental health in the context of an increasing number of immigrants from non-traditional source countries and by examining themes such as the 'healthy immigrant effect' and acculturative stress (Newbold 2005; Ng and Omariba 2010; Khanlou 2009), it is only recently that researchers have begun to explore the relationship between sense of place (often referred to as sense of belonging, sense of community, community belonging, and/or place attachment) and its implication on mental wellness amongst immigrants (Williams and Kitchen 2012; Kitchen et al. …

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