People have been experiencing increasing mental distress since the pandemic.
While demand for mental health help has steadily increased across the country since the pandemic, some are far from ready to ask for support in this area, even if they are in difficulty.
Congolese by origin, Jacques Lehani Kagayo lost a child only four months after his arrived in Canada in 2014. Despite the shock at the time, he and his wife did not accept any mental health support that many Windsor agencies were offering.
We said no to the service because for us, this mental health service is like losing your mind and being considered crazy, explains Mr. Kagayo.
Jacques Lehani Kagayo wants immigrant communities, especially of African origin, to be made aware of the importance of mental health services.
Today, he would not necessarily be more comfortable accepting this type of help because of the way his community might view him and his family.
In most traditional African communities, those who seek mental health services are marginalized, he points out.
“To be known as someone who has gone through mental health services, or been served by psychologists, culturally or mentally sounds like someone has lost control or like a few balls don't fit anymore. brain.
— Windsor resident Jacques Lehani Kagayo
According to Philippine Ishak, Senior Manager at 5W, some of their clients are reluctant to talk openly about their mental health issues.
This fear of rejection, Philippine Ishak also notes. Senior manager at 5W, a Windsor organization that helps immigrant women in particular to access the labor market, she often witnesses situations where her clients are reluctant to confide in their mental health problems.
The biggest challenge is often the stigma that people associate with mental health illnesses, she explains.
It has happened to Richard Makitu Dolomingo before d& #x27;experience intense anxiety and stress, but when he needs help, he draws on his own resources.
I resort to my personal methods, go for sports. It happened to me one day to wake up at midnight to go to my sport, I worked and I came home. It was over, he says.
Richard Makitu Dolomingo says he doesn't like exposing his struggles to others outside his community .
In more serious situations, he calls on those around him.
When I have a problem that is beyond me, I can go to my brother, I can see the people around me and can solve my problem, he confides.
“There might be times when I might fall due to stress, that's when maybe I might not have the will to go , people will be able to take me there, but on my own, I never thought of going there when I have an anxiety or stress problem.
—Windsor resident Richard Makitu Dolomingo
He also admits that even if he wanted to seek outside help, he wouldn't know where to turn. An observation shared by Jacques Lehani Kagayo.
People do not have enough information about these services, people do not manage to take these services because they are not informed enough, he explains.
For Jacque Lehani Kagayo, we should go further and explore how services of this type are perceived in their country of origin and use reassuring terminology to convince people to use them.
Basile Bakumbane is of the same opinion. According to him, the importance of mental health services should be explained to newcomers as soon as they arrive.
It's not that they don't need them. They don't know it exists and that it can be a solution, he says.
“We are not sufficiently informed. We're not going. Sometimes we say that we know how to solve our problems, we believe that it will calm down in us, we do not know that it will have repercussions on our mind later. »
— Basile Bakumbane
Basile Bakumbane himself would be willing to seek psychological services, but only discreetly.
According to him, the best would be to multiply the information sessions on the importance of this question because there is a cultural problem.
If the information circulates and the community adopts it, the rest will go without saying, he says. Ishak who finds that when the barrier of fear is overcome, clients begin to talk, accept advice and treatment proposals.
Maisha Buuma, professor of psychotherapy at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, also advocates for the promotion of mental health services for newcomers.
I would say that the African immigrant population consults very little […] there are fewer of them, they are rare in terms of frequency […]., he explains.
For him, community organizations have the role of broadening the understanding of the concept of health among these groups.