Farah Islam

Farah Islam

University of Toronto, Canada

Title: Mental Health Consultation in Ontario’s Immigrant Populations


Farah Islam, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the Social Aetiology of Mental Illness (SAMI) program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada. She completed her doctorate at York University (Toronto, Canada) in the field of epidemiology. She explores mental health and service access in Canada\'s racialized and immigrant populations, employing both quantitative epidemiology and mixed methods research. Farah orients her research and community work around breaking down the barriers of mental health stigma.


Introduction: Ontario is home to the largest immigrant population in Canada. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence rates and characteristics of past-year mental health consultation for Ontario’s adult (18+ years old) immigrant populations. Methods: The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2012 was used to calculate the prevalence rates of past-year mental health consultation by service provider type. To determine the characteristics associated with mental health consultation, multivariable logistic regression analysis was carried out on merged CCHS 2008-2012 data. Results: Adult immigrant populations in Ontario (n = 3,995) had lower estimated prevalence rates of mental health consultation across all service provider types compared to Canadian-born populations (n = 14,644). Amongst those who reported past-year mental health consultation, 57.89% of Ontario immigrants contacted their primary care physician, which was significantly higher than the proportion who consulted their family doctor from Canadian-born populations (45.31%). The factors of gender, age, racial/ethnic background, education level, working status, food insecurity status, self-perceived health status, smoking status, alcohol drinking status, years since immigration, and age at time of immigration were significantly associated with past-year mental health consultation for immigrant populations. Discussion: Ontario’s adult immigrant populations rely on their family doctor for mental health care. Potential exists for expanding community outreach for other avenues of mental health care. These findings provide an overview of mainstream mental health consultation. Comprehensive data to understand how immigrant populations attain informal and non-mainstream mental health care is needed. Examination of the social determinants of mental health is critical to understand how we can best serve the mental health needs of Ontario’s immigrant populations.

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