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Precarious Status: Youth Mental Health at the Intersections of Identity and Migration

  • Amy Soberano
  • Philip Ackerman
  • Rosa Solorzano
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)

Abstract

Introduction to Topic

The far-reaching impacts that precarious immigration status has on youth are only beginning to be documented and understood in Canada. Immigration status (or lack thereof) shapes accessibility and inclusiveness in terms of employment, housing, education, physical health, and other realms of daily life. The burden of inaccess exists in complex relationship with mental health and wellness, whereby underlying traumatic histories are not only aggravated for youth, but new challenges are fomented. Moreover, as the need for appropriate and sensitive support increases, the possibility of realizing this support is restricted by parameters of status. Thus, despite the growing Sanctuary City movement in Ontario and concerted efforts to increase access and awareness of the precarious migrant movement, the non-status body remains both illegalized and invisibilized.

Main Body

This chapter was developed in close communication with members of a Toronto-based group of precarious migrant youth. Through the unpacking of their lived experiences, we aim to offer a detailed account of ways in which precarious immigration status intersects with other markers of identity to shape navigation of mental health and appropriate support for youth. Grounded in an anti-oppressive, trauma-informed, and intersectional framework, this chapter will outline how experiences of mental health for migrant youth are manifested in a climate of precarity, with few outlets for feelings and frustrations, both within and beyond a bio-medical model.

Discussion and Implications

Despite tremendous diversity within this demographic, consultation with 13 primary informants elucidated four primary themes as characteristic of the precarious migrant youth experience in the Greater Toronto Area: illegalization, inaccess and exclusion, identity formation, and uncertainty about the future. Through the subsequent analysis it becomes increasingly clear that more nuanced attention and tenderness must be brought to this rising issue at multiple levels, through a client-centered, community-driven approach which seeks to amplify the voices of those most impacted. Cross-sectoral awareness and response needs to be shaped within an intersectional framework, placing greater emphasis on determinants of mental health—as well as access to meaningful interventions—as they are experienced by precarious status migrant youth.

Keywords

Youth Migration Mental Health Immigration Status Access 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community ServicesTorontoCanada
  2. 2.OISE, University of TorontoFCJ Refugee CentreTorontoCanada
  3. 3.FCJ Youth NetworkTorontoCanada

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