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Conversations on Mental Health As Newcomers In Canada

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In a recent interview with Nataly Ponce, a resilient immigrant living in Canada, we explored the often-overlooked topic of mental health within the immigrant community. Ponce shared her personal journey and shed light on the challenges immigrants face, urging for increased awareness and understanding.

According to Ponce, mental health is a vast and complex subject that only truly resonates with those who have personally experienced its impact. She emphasized the need for advocacy and open conversations surrounding mental health, as many individuals may not recognize its significance until they find themselves amid its challenges.

As an immigrant herself, Ponce stressed the importance of incorporating mental health discussions into the immigration process. Amidst the paperwork, checklists, and preparations for a new life, mental health should be prioritized, not sidelined. She urged for a shift in perspective, encouraging immigrants to consider mental well-being as crucial as any other aspect of their journey.

Ponce shared her own experience of initially neglecting mental health concerns, attributing physical symptoms like hair loss and breakouts to stress and environmental changes. It wasn’t until a blood test revealed a severe vitamin D deficiency that she began to connect the dots between her physical symptoms and mental well-being.

Reflecting on her immigration process, Ponce acknowledged the increased information available today compared to five years ago. However, she pointed out that mental health, especially conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder, wasn’t on her radar during the immigration process. She highlighted the importance of making prospective immigrants aware of these possibilities, enabling them to take preventive measures or seek help if needed.

Ponce shared valuable advice on recognizing signs of unhappiness in the workplace and taking proactive steps to address them. She emphasized the need to prioritize mental health, suggesting that staying in a detrimental work environment can have severe consequences.

For Ponce, finding a renewed sense of purpose played a pivotal role in her mental health journey. Connecting her background in physiotherapy with a passion for child development, she pursued a career in early education. This shift not only aligned with her interests but also brought joy and fulfillment to her daily life.

She underscored the significance of finding purpose, acknowledging that it might vary for each individual. Whether it’s a career change, a new hobby, or community involvement, having a sense of purpose can positively impact mental well-being.

Regarding making connections and overcoming the challenges of sharing personal struggles, Ponce recognized the inherent difficulties. Immigrants often grapple with self-awareness and fear of judgment. She encouraged open conversations, stressing that expressing one’s feelings can be a cathartic experience. Ponce emphasized the importance of seeking help, whether through professional avenues or confiding in a friend, as talking about mental health issues can significantly lighten the emotional burden.

Ponce’s insights provide a valuable perspective on mental health within the immigrant community. Her journey serves as a testament to the importance of proactive mental health awareness, seeking purpose, and fostering open conversations to create a supportive environment for immigrants facing mental health challenges.

– Yuliia Kovalenko, U Multicultural

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