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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Well-being, strategic design, transition, & policy : a case for the federal settlement platform Shahban, Shenaz A. H.


The importance of refugee well-being research is on the rise as increasing numbers of refugees are finding sanctuary in Vancouver. In 2015 and 2016, the federal Operation Syrian Refugee program oversaw the arrival of 25,000 refugees to 250 communities across Canada. In 2016 the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia (ISS of BC) investigated the well-being of these government-assisted refugees in A Roadmap to Integration and Citizenship. That study revealed that 30% refugee participants reported low well-being and were “sad” or “depressed”. As mental health services (e.g., counselling) are widely known to support well-being, the purpose of this interdisciplinary research was to investigate what formal and informal mental health services were offered to government-assisted refugee men, women, and families during the period of 2015-2016 in Vancouver. The study participants included key informants (public servants, mental health professionals, and settlement professionals) and data was collected using service journey maps and interviews. This study found that there were no formal settlement-informed mental health care services available to government-assisted refugees and very few informal mental health services. Thematic findings accompanied by quantitative frequency computational analysis revealed that improvements are needed for refugee mental health care. The four main needs for refugee mental health care are: (i) the need to be seen as a priority, (ii) the need to be provided to all [refugees], (iii) the need to be trauma and settlement-informed, and (iv) the need to be collaborative. Further analysis of the findings led to the development of the proposed policy recommendations for the Federal Settlement Platform (FSP). The intention for the development of this platform is for refugees, settlement agencies, and stakeholders to access one unifying web-experience to coordinate, coalesce, and organize not only mental health resources but all settlement-related information. Analysis of the data makes clear the necessity for the FSP by highlighting the consequences of a lack of refugee mental health services which are growing rates of cognitive disorders like depression.

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