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Friday, June 19 • 10:30am - 12:00pm
Immigrant Mental Health and Building Capacities - Jim Anderson, Chesmal Siriwardhana, Maria Angela Mattar Yunes

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Immigrant Mental Health and Building Capacities:

Abstract #152
Building Capacity With Immigrant And Refugee Families In A Bilingual Family Literacy Program: Some Insights And Perspectives From A Three Year Project
Presenter: Jim Anderson Co - Presenter: Ann Anderson
In this session, we report on a bilingual family literacy program with about 500 immigrant and refugee families from four linguistic groups in the Greater Vancouver Area. Drawing on the notion of “additive bilingualism” (e.g., Cummins, 2000) and research that demonstrates the benefits of acquiring a second language (Bialystok, 2011), the program sought to promote families’ first language maintenance, support parents in enhancing their preschool children’s  language  and literacy development in their first language and English, and create a space where families could become familiar with and feel comfortable in Canadian schools. Sessions addressing various aspects of young children’s learning and development were conducted in families’ first languages (Farsi, Karen, Mandarin, Punjabi) and English by an early childhood educator and a cultural worker from the linguistic community. Findings include:  1) parents indicated they better understood young children’s learning and how to support it in age appropriate ways; 2) parents realized  the  importance of play for young children; 3) families better understood schools and felt comfortable there 4) facilitators got to know and understand families and their beliefs/perspectives, and 5) children’s early literacy knowledge significantly increased. Implications for developing capacity and resiliency in families and children will be drawn.

Abstract #249
A Systematic Review Of Resilience And Mental Health Outcomes Of Conflict-Driven Adult Forced Migrants
Presenter: Chesmal Siriwardhana
Armed conflict is a leading driver of global forced migration. Forced migrants are at a greater risk of developing mental disorders. However, resilience, defined as the ability of a person to successfully adapt to/recover from traumatic experiences, is a key potential protective factor. This systematic review of resilience and mental health of adult, conflict-driven forced migrants aimed to explores current global evidence.
Quantitative and qualitative studies that reported resilience and mental health outcomes among forced-migrant populations (aged 18+) were included. Fourteen bibliographic databases and seven humanitarian databases/websites were searched using a four stage screening process.
Twenty three studies were selected. Ten qualitative studies highlighted family/community cohesion, family/community support, individual personal qualities, collective identity, supportive primary relationships and religion. Thirteen quantitative studies were identified, but only two attempted to link resilience with mental disorders, and three used a specific resilience measure. Over-reliance on cross-sectional designs was noted. Resilience was generally shown to be associated with better mental health in displaced populations, but the evidence on this and underlying mechanisms was limited.
The review highlights the need for more epidemiological and qualitative evidence on resilience among forced migrants as a potential avenue for intervention development, particularly in resource-poor settings.

Abstract #101
Parental Resilience and Positive Parenting among At-Risk Families in Brazil
Presenter: Maria Angela Mattar Yunes Co-presenter: Narjara Mendes Garcia, Ana Maria Tomás Almeida
In Brazil there is a paucity of literature investigating or evaluating parental support and family education programs. Many Brazilian families are faced with multiple adversities that suggest a need to research positive psychosocial interventions to promote resilience. An as-of-yet untested approach in Brazil is the concept of parental resilience, which attempts to bolster parents’ coping skills. For the study, we replicated a parental-resilience program from Spain called “Growing a Happy Family.” The goal of this program is upgrading intrafamily communication and improving parental competencies. This program was implemented in Brazil among at-risk families (N = 35) with children up to 10 years of age. Questionnaires were filled out by parents pre- and post-completion of the program. Parenting sessions were conducted by professionals and consisted of 12 sessions of 2 hours each. Analyses of the results at the end of the sessions indicated that the program had a significant impact on parenting styles and family interactions, in terms of solving everyday problems, engaging in open dialogue, and reducing the use of corporal punishment. These findings point to the potential of parental-resilience programs among at-risk populations in Brazil, in terms of upgrading intrafamily communication and promoting positive interactions within the family group.


Chesmal Siriwardhana

Dr. Chesmal Siriwardhana is medical doctor by training and currently a Senior Lecturer in Public Health at the Faculty of Medical Science, Anglia Ruskin University, UK. He is also a visiting researcher at the Centre for Global Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College... Read More →

Jim Anderson

University of British Columbia
Jim Anderson has worked and conducted research in early and family literacy for nearly three decades. He has received funding from the Canadian Council on Learning, SSHRC, UBC Hampton Research Fund, and provincial and federal departments and ministries to support his research. In... Read More →
avatar for Maria Angela Mattar Yunes

Maria Angela Mattar Yunes

Associate Professor, Centro Universitário La Salle, Unilasalle, Canoas
Lecturer and advisor at the programs of post graduation studies in education in Centro Universitário La Salle - UNILASALLE, Canoas and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURG, Brasil. Main interest on research and intervention on family resilience, community resilience and parental... Read More →


Ana Almeida

PhD in Education at Universidade do Minho Teacher and advisor at the post graduation studies in education in Universidade do Minho, Braga, Portugal.

Ann Anderson

Professor, University of British Columbia
Ann Anderson is professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy. Her research includes working with families from diverse cultural backgrounds to understand ways in which young children’s multi-literacies are supported prior to and in the early years of school. In addition... Read More →

Narjara Mendes Garcia

PhD in Environmental Education at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURG Teacher at the Institute of Education and the post graduation Program in Environmental Education at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande - FURG, Brasil.

Friday June 19, 2015 10:30am - 12:00pm EDT
Haliburton Room A&A Main Floor, King's College

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