Ongoing Project:

Mental Health and Help-Seeking among Refugee Children and Families in Hamilton, Ontario

Researchers: Amanda Sim1, Kathy Georgiades1, Rashed Afif2, Marion Trent-Kratz3, Eve Puffer4
Affiliation: Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University1, Wesley Urban Ministries2, Children’s Services and Neighbourhood Development, City of Hamilton3, Duke University4
Research Partners:
Wesley Urban Ministries, Children’s Services and Neighbourhood Development, City of Hamilton
Keywords: refugees, children, youth, families, resilience, wellbeing, mental health, health promotion and prevention, interventions, community based participatory research, Hamilton, Ontario
Jump to: Methodology, Knowledge Mobilization, Publications


Overview: This study explores the mental health and wellbeing of recently arrived, Arabic-speaking Government-Assisted Refugee children and families, focusing on barriers, facilitators and preferences for receiving mental health support.


  1. To assess the mental health concerns and wellbeing of refugee children and youth, and their parents/caregivers;
  2. To understand refugee families’ knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes towards mental health and help-seeking, barriers and facilitators to accessing care, and preferences for receiving mental health supports.

Research Justification: There is a lack of data on the mental health and wellbeing of children and families who have recently arrived in Canada as refugees. This evidence gap limits the ability of service providers in the settlement and health sectors to plan and allocate resources for service delivery, as well as reduce barriers and promote facilitators to help refugee families’ access mental health supports.


This study consists of a mixed methods survey with Arabic-speaking Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) parents and adolescents aged 12 to 17 who have resettled in Hamilton, Ontario since 2019. In addition to the survey data, in-depth semi-structured interviews with parents and adolescents will be conducted to probe more deeply into the results of the survey. Key informant interviews with service providers across the health, education, and settlement sectors will also be conducted to identify strengths, challenges, and gaps in current mental health supports for refugee children and families. The study uses a community-based participatory approach to ensure that study objectives, design, implementation, and knowledge mobilization activities reflect the priorities and needs of refugee children and families and newcomer-serving organizations.

Our Story, Our Voice: A community-based, refugee-centred, and arts-focused approach to knowledge mobilization

KMb Partners: Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice, Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council

To share findings from this study, the research team will take a community-based, refugee child and youth-centred, and arts-focused approach to knowledge mobilization (KMb) and engage in the following KMb activities:

  1. Creative arts workshops with study participants to support their creation of artwork relating to the themes arising in the research findings
  2. In-person and/or virtual public exhibits of participants’ artwork illustrating key study findings
  3. Short video featuring artwork (with participant consent) and key study findings, screened for participants to provide feedback
  4. Webinar or in-person event launch of video and study report, featuring a panel of refugees, service provider organizations (SPOs), and policy makers.

The research team will partner with Centre[3] for Artistic + Social Practice, an artist-run centre that runs community arts and art education programs in Hamilton, with an emphasis on engaging youth from diverse newcomer and racialized backgrounds. Youth artists from Centre[3] will facilitate creative arts workshops using child/youth and newcomer friendly approaches, under the guidance and mentorship of experienced artists from the Arabic-speaking and/or refugee and newcomer community. The research team will also partner with the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC) to host the art exhibit, publicize KMb events, and disseminate knowledge products through their annual Hamilton Newcomer week. Finally, the research team will provide interpretation, transportation stipends, and art supplies to ensure that cost and language are not barriers to participation in the workshops.

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