Methods: This study utilized a concurrent mixed methods approach. Data were collected through surveys, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. A purposive/theoretical sampling method was initially used to reach participants “based on their ability to provide needed information” (Padgett, 1998, 51), and later a snowball sampling method was utilized to increase response rate. Survey respondents included 18 Children and Youth mental health (CYMH) workers and child welfare workers. Nine individual interviews and one focus group were conducted. Participants included: five CYMH clinicians, three community stakeholders, and one representative from a school-based program. Surveys and interviews sought information about access barriers experienced by immigrant and refugee children and youth.
Results: Notably, 72% of survey participants disagreed or strongly disagreed that “Most immigrant and refugee children are able to receive MH services in their preferred language,” while 67% disagreed or strongly disagreed that “Mental health services for I/R children are integrated and cohesive.” Only 39% of respondents reported that MH services integrate the spiritual and religious practices and beliefs of youth into their care. The following seven barriers were identified by survey, interview, and focus group participants: 1) stigma; 2) language; 3) mental health awareness; 4) lack of infrastructure to support culturally sensitive practices; 5) trauma; 6) fear of government bodies; and 7) immediate family needs that take priority over seeking mental health support.
Implications: Recommendations of study participants included: 1) approaching this population with cultural humility; 2) developing specialized clinician outreach roles; 3) partnering with neighborhood houses and other immigrant/refugee agencies to facilitate access to MH services by working with parents; 4) exploring school-based MH service delivery, which is common in the U.S. but underutilized in BC; and 5) enhancing data analytic capacity to track service to these youths.