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Lori Wilkinson and David Ponka

The authors challenge many misperceptions people have about mental health and newcomers. In particular, they dismiss the notion that the experience of migration, particularly among refugees, is somehow psychologically and irreversibly damaging to newcomers. After summarizing the state of knowledge in Canada concerning the mental health outcomes of immigrant and refugee adults, children and youth, they examine in detail a number of interrelated dimensions: (1) complexities associated with identifying and tracking over time the mental health of refugees from the point of entry to Canada throughout their post-settlement experience; (2) the nature of the immigrant medical examination as a screening mechanism and its limitations; (3) the necessity for medical practitioners to treat refugees as a special case given their pre-migration experience with trauma and, for many, their post-settlement experience with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and (4), major challenges associated with ensuring proper access for refugees to the health-care system and needed systemic accommodations to better treat refugee mental health concerns in Canada.