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Systemic and Individual Factors That Shape Mental Health Service Usage Among Visible Minority Immigrants and Refugees in Canada: A Scoping Review


There exists considerable research which reports that mental health disparities persist among visible minority immigrants and refugees within Canada. Accessing mental health care services becomes a concern which contributes to this, as visible minority migrants are regarded as an at-risk group that are clinically underserved. Thus, the purpose of this review is to explore the following research question: “what are the barriers and facilitators for accessing mental health care services among visible immigrants and refugees in Canada?". A scoping review following guidelines proposed by Arksey and O'Malley (International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8(1): 19–32, 2005) was conducted. A total of 45 articles published from 2000 to 2020 were selected through the review process, and data from the retrieved articles was thematically analyzed. Wide range of barriers and facilitators were identified at both the systemic and individual levels. Unique differences rooted within landing and legal statuses were also highlighted within the findings to provide nuance amongst immigrants and refugees. With the main layered identity of being a considered a visible minority, this yielded unique challenges patterned by other identities and statuses. The interplay of structural issues rooted in Canadian health policies and immigration laws coupled with individual factors produce complex barriers and facilitators when seeking mental health services. Through employing a combined and multifaceted approach which address the identified factors, the findings also provide suggestions for mental health care providers, resettlement agencies, policy recommendations, and future directions for research are discussed as actionable points of departure.

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The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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ZS conceptualized the study, developed the search syntax and review protocol, screened articles for review as according to guidelines, analyzed the data, and wrote the first original draft of the manuscript. OO acted as the second reviewer, prepared the manuscript, and helped analyze the findings. BN, OW, and LS provided intellectual input and also edited for clarity. All authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Zoha Salam.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare that are relevant to the content of this article.

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Salam, Z., Odenigbo, O., Newbold, B. et al. Systemic and Individual Factors That Shape Mental Health Service Usage Among Visible Minority Immigrants and Refugees in Canada: A Scoping Review. Adm Policy Ment Health 49, 552–574 (2022).

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  • Migration
  • Mental health services
  • Barriers
  • Facilitators
  • Visible minority