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Mental Health And Wellness Awareness for Winnipeg International Students

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When international students, particularly Muslims in Winnipeg, arrive in Canada, they face numerous hurdles, the most significant of which are psychological challenges not only because of the distance from their own country but also because of a significant cultural gap.

Dr. Natasha M. Ali, a registered psychologist at the University of Manitoba, was a guest on “Civic Platform” and spoke about her experience working with international Muslim students. She explains her duties at the university are to provide psychological counselling to Muslim students arriving in Winnipeg experiencing significant difficulties. Dr. Ali went on to say that the biggest issue for Muslim students is their false expectations before they arrive, not fully understanding that there is a considerable contrast between Islamic and Canadian cultures. One example is Muslims meeting new people or going to parties. According to their traditions, they cannot participate if there are alcoholic beverages present nor can they dance if both men and women are present. These things contradict their beliefs, which adds to their psychological stress.

Students feel great difficulties in Winnipeg. They come to learn, but education is not everything. They need to live their lives normally. They come to Canada because it has one of the highest levels of education. However, for many Muslim students, cultural differences and the challenge of fitting in have emotional and psychosocial impacts. That’s where the Muslim Student Association comes in. They help students overcome these challenges to focus on their goals without being affected by the external environment.

According to Dr. Ali, MSA has a significant role in the success of her work. With their assistance and collaboration, she has gained the trust of students who sorely need someone to listen to them. She also emphasized that for international students to succeed, they must form strong bonds with their peers and maintain open communication with student organizations.

Education is challenging enough without the additional stress that comes from trying to build a new life in a new country. With 1 in 5 young Canadians struggling with mental health, continued resources to help students and all Canadians remain paramount.

– Zuher Almusre, U Multicultural

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