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Feelings of failure affect mental health of immigrants in Vancouver: UBC study

A brand-new facility aimed at helping people with mental health and substance use issues opened in Calgary.
A brand-new facility aimed at helping people with mental health and substance use issues opened in Calgary. Global News / File

Immigrants who have moved to Canada may have their mental health affected if they feel like they’re failing in their new home, according to a UBC study.

The study called “Just as Canadian as Anyone Else”? Experiences of Second-Class Citizenship and the Mental Health of Young Immigrant and Refugee Men in Canada explored the effect of failure and performance in male immigrants in the Metro Vancouver area.

“Within this narrative, the young men saw themselves as agents for fulfilling their dreams, as well as the aspirations of their families,” the study states.

“The fear of failure was aggravated by the young men’s worries over disappointing their parents together with the desire to realize the collective family aspirations.”

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The participants came from Afghanistan, China, Brazil, and South Africa among others and some were escaping from dangerous situations.

Many of the participants said they either felt indebted to their parents or the government for bringing them to Canada. Therefore, if they weren’t doing well, it affected their mental health as they felt they should be doing better.

“I’m not forced by my parents to do anything, but I know I’m obligated to them just ‘cause I feel like I owe them that much at least – so when I do poorly…it really stresses me out and it kind of just gets all the bad thoughts coming…you just want it to end and how else is it going to end, right?” an anonymous participant said.

Parents and the government weren’t the only pressures the participants worried about. Some were concerned by teachers’ perception and wanting to excel in classes.

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“A really bad day for me is when some of my teachers got mad at me when I forget to do homework or I couldn’t answer the questions,” said Peter, a participant in the study, which didn’t identify any last names.

“Even though they might not notice it, it will make me depressed for the whole day.”

The study also looks at the effect on mental of searching for a better life in Canada and starting over in a new country as immigrants or refugees.

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