Age at immigration to Canada and the occurrence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders

Research Nurse, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.
Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie (Impact Factor: 2.55). 04/2013; 58(4):210-7.
Source: PubMed


The process of migration and resettlement has been associated with increased risk for psychiatric illness. Our study sought to examine the association between age at immigration and risk for mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders (SUDs) among adult immigrants in Canada.

Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-Being, a cross-sectional study of psychiatric disorder conducted in 2002, was used to identify a representative sample of adult immigrants in Canada (n = 4946). Logistic regression was used to examine the association between age at immigration (0 to 5 years, 6 to 17 years, and 18 years and older) and 12-month prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders, and SUDs.

Immigrants who arrived prior to age 6 years reported the highest risk for mood (OR 3.41; 95% CI 1.7 to 7.0) and anxiety disorders (OR 6.89; 95% CI 3.5 to 13.5), compared with those who immigrated at the age of 18 years or older, after adjusting for covariates, including duration of residence.

Younger age at immigration was associated with increased risk of having a current mood disorder, anxiety disorder, or SUD. These findings speak to the importance of developing and evaluating targeted prevention programs for young immigrant children and adolescents.

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    • "Taking the findings from the multivariate logistic regression analysis, stress management programs for South Asian immigrants could potentially target those living in food insecurity, those with one or more chronic condition, and those who immigrated to Canada before reaching adulthood. Patterson et al. [33] found the highest prevalence rates and risk of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance abuse amongst those who had immigrated to Canada before the age of 6 even after adjusting for age, sex, region of origin, marital status, urbanicity, household income, and household size. Mental health programming needs to concentrate on those who migrate to Canada in early childhood as they are at a greater risk for mental health issues. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background South Asian populations are the largest visible minority group in Canada; however, there is very little information on the mental health of these populations. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence rates and characteristics of mental health outcomes for South Asian first-generation immigrant and second-generation Canadian-born populations. Methods The Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2011 was used to calculate the estimated prevalence rates of the following mental health outcomes: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, fair-poor self-perceived mental health status, and extremely stressful life stress. The characteristics associated with these four mental health outcomes were determined through multivariate logistic regression analysis of merged CCHS 2007–2011 data. Results South Asian Canadian-born (3.5%, 95% CI 3.4-3.6%) and South Asian immigrant populations (3.5%, 95% CI 3.5-3.5%) did not vary significantly in estimated prevalence rates of mood disorders. However, South Asian immigrants experienced higher estimated prevalence rates of diagnosed anxiety disorders (3.4%, 95% CI 3.4-3.5 vs. 1.1%, 95% CI 1.1-1.1%) and self-reported extremely stressful life stress (2.6%, 95% CI 2.6-2.7% vs. 2.4%, 95% CI 2.3-2.4%) compared to their Canadian-born counterparts. Lastly, South Asian Canadian-born populations had a higher estimated prevalence rate of poor-fair self-perceived mental health status (4.4%, 95% CI 4.3-4.5%) compared to their immigrant counterparts (3.4%, 95% CI 3.3-3.4%). Different profiles of mental health determinants emerged for South Asian Canadian-born and immigrant populations. Female gender, having no children under the age of 12 in the household, food insecurity, poor-fair self-rated health status, being a current smoker, immigrating to Canada before adulthood, and taking the CCHS survey in either English or French was associated with greater risk of negative mental health outcomes for South Asian immigrant populations, while not being currently employed, having a regular medical doctor, and inactive physical activity level were associated with greater risk for South Asian Canadian-born populations. Conclusions Mental health outreach programs need to be cognizant of the differences in prevalence rates and characteristics of mental health outcomes for South Asian immigrant and Canadian-born populations to better tailor mental health services to be responsive to the unique mental health needs of South Asian populations in Canada.
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