Title of Presentation:
A Syrian refugee's autoethnography: Considerations for mental health research and practice in Canada
Preference for Poster or Oral Presentation:
Many efforts are made to address the needs of refugees in Canada, including mental health needs. This talk will present the perspective and experience of a teacher from Syria, who arrived in Montreal as a refugee in January 2016. It will include an overview of her migration trajectory, integration process, and interactions with various communities and established systems in Quebec. These systems include employment services and mental health services. Because she was a refugee herself, who has both provided and received services, she is uniquely positioned to offer innovative ideas and insight for psychiatric research and practice with refugees. These considerations relate to the following themes: conceptual and language barriers present in available services; the role of community in adaptive processes; and the importance of "translating" the experiences of refugees rather than "dictating" to them what they should experience. The aim of this talk is to sensitive the audience to the diverse strengths and challenges among people who arrive in Canada as refugees, as well as to communicate the great potential that exists by working with refugees in the development of mental health research and practice.
As noted above, because I went through the experience of arriving in Canada as a refugee, and have both provided and received local services, I am uniquely positioned to offer innovative ideas and insight for psychiatric research and practice with refugees. Having worked as a teacher in Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, and as an intervenante communautaire (community worker) for CARI St Laurent (Centre d'accueil et de reference sociale et economique pour immigrants) in Quebec doing integration and art therapy with refugees, I have developed a nuanced approach to, and understanding of, this complex and multilevel issue.