Newcomer Refugee and Immigrant Youth’s Experience with COVID-19

Researchers: Reza Nakhaie1, Howard Ramos2, Hugo Vega3, and Kamal Khaj3
Affiliation: University of Windsor1, Western University2, and YMCA of Western Ontario3
Research Partner: YMCA of Western Ontario
Keywords: newcomer, refugee, immigrant, children and youth, COVID-19, integration, mental health, resilience, family, food insecurity, school, teachers, quantitative methodology
Jump to: Full infographicMethodologyFindingsRecommendationsPublications & Reports


Overview: This study surveyed 244 refugee and immigrant youth in Windsor, Ontario, to understand their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also looked at the association between youth’s academic persistence and the supportiveness of their school environment.


Research Justification: Research shows that negative health outcomes increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and were linked to age, immigration status, and being financially impacted by COVID-19. However, there is limited research on the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth. Windsor, Ontario, was chosen as a case study because it was designated for the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) and has a higher percentage of immigrant and refugee population than the national average.

Infographic Excerpt

Full Infographic

Executive Summary


The research team surveyed 244 refugee and immigrant youth newcomers who attended the YMCA of South-Western Ontario for orientation and referral. Participants were surveyed by telephone, mostly in Arabic. The majority of participants (60.2%) were under the age of 19. Among these, 64.3% were government-assisted refugees, 11.1% were privately sponsored refugees, 3.7% were family immigrants, 6.1% were economic immigrants, and 14.8% were another type of refugee. The majority (77%) had been in Canada for less than four years, with an average length of residency being 3.3 years. There were slightly more female (56.2%) than male (43.8%) respondents.

Indicators of mental health problems include the frequency that respondents felt sad, stressed, confused, isolated, helpless, nervous, hopeless, or depressed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social connection was measured by the number of siblings participants reported. Multivariate analysis was used to evaluate the relationship between mental health and variables of acculturation, assimilation, food insecurity, resilience, and social connection. Multivariate analysis was then used to evaluate the relationship between youth’s academic persistence and their perceptions of teacher support and students’ openness to diversity.


Mental Health & COVID-19

Academic Persistence & School Environment


Explore more projects

Go to Top