It’s estimated that 2,700 Syrian refugees will be settling in B.C. within the next six to seven weeks.
According to the Immigrant Services Society of BC, besides the usual settlement supports, the biggest need for all ages will be trauma counselling.
Now, the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture is calling for more funding for mental health services for the incoming refugees.
Simi Sara spoke with Dylan Mazur, who is the executive director of the Vancouver Association for the Survivors of Torture.
He says its important to remember that refugees are not the same as those who choose to immigrate to a new country.
“Refugee’s don’t have that choice and their lives get turned upside down. The one important peiece too is that refugees are some of the most resilient people that I’ve met. They have a tremendous set of survival skills to get out of their country and make it, [so] It’s important not to pathologize people…What people are experiencing are normal reactions to pathological circumstances.”
He says Citizenship and Immigration Canada has no policy to fund mental health services, and they don’t fund any trauma services for refugees.
“We need to look at the mental health piece, about reducing symptoms and dealing with trauma at the same time we’re talking about food security, housing security, employment, family re-unification. Those two pieces need to be integrated.”
Mazur says there’s no national strategy to address mental health care, and without dealing with trauma it will create barriers for refugees to begin integrating and participating in society.