Emotional wellness overlooked when it comes to immigrants and refugees thriving in new lives

posted on February 1, 2020

By CBC News |

Calgary conference addresses hidden barrier for women trying to integrate

Housing and employment are usually the two most immediate needs talked about for foreign newcomers to Calgary.

But experts in the settlement field say another huge component to making a successful start is being overlooked: emotional wellness, especially in women.

A conference in Calgary will spend the next two days focused on that issue and how it can be moved farther up the long ladder of priorities for immigrants from faraway countries and the agencies that help them once they arrive.

Researchers, agencies, practitioners and newcomers themselves will get together at Calgary’s Central Library on Wednesday and Thursday to take a closer look at the topic. Organizers hope participants leave with some new ways of thinking about the role of emotional wellness in settlement and integration.

Newcomers don’t have to pay to access the conference, which includes free child care on-site.

“We want to differentiate emotional wellness from clinical mental health conditions like PTSD and depression. The majority of cases in the settlement experience are around adjusting to a new environment and the stresses involved,” said Cesar Suva, director of research and development at The Immigrant Education Society (TIES) in Calgary.

The Immigrant Education Society is one of the groups behind the conference, along with the University of Calgary’s faculty of nursing. It’s being funded by a Status of Women Alberta community grant.

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