Mental distress, economic hardship and expectations of life in Canada among Sudanese newcomers

Transcult Psychiatry. 2006 Sep;43(3):418-44. doi: 10.1177/1363461506066985.


As part of a settlement needs assessment of 220 recently arrived Sudanese refugees and immigrants in seven cities, we examined overall health status, indicators of mental distress, economic hardship and expectations of life in Canada. Data were collected in a community-based study using qualitative and quantitative techniques. Results indicate that those Sudanese for whom life in Canada was not what they expected and those who experienced economic hardship as measured by worry over having enough money for food or medicine experienced poorer overall health and reported a greater number of symptoms of psychological distress. After controlling for demographic and related variables, we found that individuals who were experiencing economic hardship were between 2.6 and 3.9 times as likely to experience loss of sleep, constant strain, unhappiness and depression, and bad memories as individuals who do not experience hardship. Healthcare providers should be aware of how postmigration social disadvantages may increase the risk of mental distress particularly among refugees.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ontario
  • Poverty / ethnology*
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / ethnology*
  • Sudan / ethnology