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Mental illness among recent immigrants : a social work study of sample group of hospitalized patients in British Columbia Rudnioki, Walter

Abstract

Understanding the social, psychological, and physical dynamics involved in mental illness is difficult enough because of the many intangibles involved. However, when mental illness occurs among immigrants, the problem becomes even more complicated. Some of the difficulty stems from the tendency to say that these people are mentally ill because they are newcomers, or that they are immigrants because of their mental or emotional instability. This study is intended as a small contribution to bringing some order to the confusion union seems to distinguish present day approaches to mentally ill newcomers. The material for this study was derived from a thorough perusal of newcomers’ hospital files. Because these files, in most cases, included the observations and impressions of psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, nurses and others, together with a full transcription of any Interviews hold with a patient, it was possible to get a fairly full picture of any newcomer's personality, behaviour, and general circumstances. On the basis of the information available in these files, a rating scale was evolved, being designed to assess the newcomers’ prevailing and potential adjustment. In part, this study is an experiment in scientific method, pointing the tray towards identifying mentally ill newcomers who could be rehabilitated, and those for whom deportation appears to be the only alternative. Such a method involves a differential approach to mentally disturbed immigrants, and the assumption that deportation legislation should not apply to people who, with proper assistance, can become proper citizens. Without doubt, because the sample of immigrants studied required hospitalization for mental and emotional disorders, they may be regarded as a special group in the total Immigrant population, nevertheless, the enquiry establishes the fact that some offer distinct rehabilitation possibilities while others should not have boon permitted to migrate in the first place. A verification of the existence of those two kinds of newcomers leads to appropriate recommendations concerning the application of deportation legislation and the screening of potential citizens. It suggests both the employment of qualified social workers who are well equipped to assess a person's emotional or mental stability, end the use of methods on the lines of those developed in this study for evaluating and predicting the kind of adjustment newcomers are likely to experience in this country.

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