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Perceived mental health and well-being of immigrants Natalia Lapshina , Ph.D. Candidate March 13, 2014. Department of Psychology. March 13, 2014 Today’s Agenda. Factors that influence mental health of immigrants “Healthy immigrant effect” Present study

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Perceived mental health and well-being of immigrants

Natalia Lapshina, Ph.D. Candidate

March 13, 2014

Department of Psychology

March 13, 2014

Today’s Agenda

  • Factors that influence mental health of immigrants

  • “Healthy immigrant effect”

  • Present study

  • Implications and recommendations for settlement agencies and employers

Presentation Title Here


To examine the effect of immigrant status on:

mental health

life satisfaction


sense of belonging

social support

Whether this effect depends on the area of residence

Whether mental health depends on visible minority status

Importance of immigrant status
Importance of Immigrant Status

Stressors in immigrants:

Pre-migration & Post-migration

“Healthy immigrant” effect:

recent immigrants - in as good or better general health than non-immigrants,

established immigrants - decline in health towards Canadian health norms with time since immigration (McDonald & Kennedy, 2004).

Importance of area of residence visible minority status
Importance of Area of Residence & Visible Minority Status

Area of Residence

Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver (Chui, Tran, & Maheux, 2007)

Reasons for settlementin TMV areas:

social support networks,

job prospects (Toronto),

language (Montréal)

climate (Vancouver)

(Tremblay, Bryan, Perez, Ardern, & Katzmarzyk, 2006)

Protective effect of neighborhoods with higher immigrant concentrations - (Menezes,Georgiades & Boyle, 2011)

Visible Minority Status

Lower likelihood of depression with increasing percentage of immigrants in the region among visible minority participants but not among Whites (Stafford, Newbold, & Ross, 2010)


Canadian Community Health Survey 2007-2008

Annual Component (CCHS)

Data at the sub-provincial levels of geography

health region or combined health regions

131,061 respondents

Outcome measures techniques of analysis
Outcome Measures & Techniques of Analysis

  • Self-perceived mental health

    1- good to excellent

    0- poor to fair

  • Satisfaction with life in general

    1 – satisfied to very satisfied

    0- nether satisfied or dissatisfied to very dissatisfied

  • Self-Perceived Life & Work Stress:

    1- quite a bit to extremely stressful,

    0- not at all to a bit

  • Sense of belonging to local community:

    1- strong

    0- weak

  • Perceived Social Support

    • Based 20 questions

    • Overall total score, 0-100


  • Hierarchical logistic regression


Measure of predictor variables
Measure of Predictor Variables



Adjusted for demographics and SES (age, sex, highest level of education, income, marital status, employment status)

  • Immigrant status

    • non-immigrant

    • recent immigrant

    • established immigrant

  • Area of residence

    • Toronto

    • Montreal

    • Vancouver

    • Rest of Canada

  • Visible minority status

    • Visible minority

    • White

Perceived mental health by immigrant status
Perceived Mental Health by Immigrant Status

Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001

Perceived mental health by area of residence
Perceived Mental Health by Area of Residence

Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001

Perceived mental health and visible minority status
Perceived Mental Healthand visible minority status

Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < 001

Perceived life satisfaction
Perceived Life Satisfaction

Note. * p < .05; ** p < .01; *** p < .001

Summary of results
Summary of results

Recent immigrants who choose to reside in Toronto reported less favourable outcomes in terms of perceptions of stress, life satisfaction, and sense of belonging

The outcomes are more favourable in Montreal and other places in Canada.

These results can be taken into account by employers and settlement agencies. 

Practical implications
Practical implications

Importance of non-medical factors contributing to mental health:

  • Immigrant status

  • Area of residence

  • Perceived life stress (visible minorities, women, seniors)

  • Perceived social support

  • Cultural background

  • Ethnic identity


  • For settlement and service agencies:

  • Planning support services for recent immigrants to reduce their chances of developing mental health problems later on.

  • Encourage awareness, acknowledgement of emotional and mental problems, and getting professional help.

  • For employers:

  • Provide on-site support in terms of recognition of mental health problems and directing employees to services available on-site and in their community.


Thank you!

Zenaida R. Ravanera, Ph.D.

Victoria M. Esses, Ph.D.