Durham Mental Health Services (DMHS) is now providing onsite community mental health support to Welcome Centre Immigrant Services clients. A DMHS Community Mental Health Worker will be at each Centre weekly to provide client services including support, advocacy, referral and linkage, education, and wellness planning. In addition, a DMHS Family Support Worker will help meet the needs of family caregivers through a mix of individual, group and educational support.
Nicole Saunders, DMHS Program Manager for Durham West, explains one of the benefits of this new partnership. “Being onsite at the Welcome Centres enables us to bring needed mental health services right to where clients are accessing other community supports. It’s direct access to services that they might not otherwise seek out, due to stigma or just lack of information about community mental health services and what they can offer.”
She continues, “We’re delighted to contribute to the Welcome Centres’ integrated service delivery approach to client support. Mental health is such a critical component of overall wellness but with all the work involved in settling in a new country, it’s something that is easily overlooked.”
DMHS Family Support Worker Jamea Corney is excited about the opportunity to connect with immigrant families, and also to work specifically with the Welcome Centre. “The feeling you get when you walk into the Welcome Centre is one of friendliness, warmth, inclusiveness, and acceptance,” she says. “It’s an environment that is absolutely conducive to providing mental health support.”
When immigrants arrive in a new country there are an overwhelming number of basic needs that must be addressed right away. Feelings of stress, isolation and anxiety can surface at any point during the settlement journey. The purpose of the Welcome Centres is to provide a one-stop shop where services are offered to help newcomers navigate the range of services available in Durham.
Welcome Centre Managers Hermia Corbette and Pam DeWilde, state, “Having DMHS onsite at the Welcome Centres means there will be professionals that immigrants can easily access in a safe, positive and confidential environment. The Community Mental Health Workers and Family Support staff will be able to address the emotional well-being and mental health challenges that come with settling in a new community.”