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Promoting mental health of immigrant seniors in community

Sharon D. Koehn (Clinical Research Professor, based at Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada and Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada)
Pavlina Jarvis (based at Providence Health Care, Vancouver, Canada)
Sharanjit K. Sandhra (Coordinator, based at Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, Canada)
Satwinder K. Bains (Director, based at Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, Canada)
Madeleine Addison (based at South Fraser branch, Canadian Mental Health Association, Surrey, Canada)

Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1757-0980

Article publication date: 9 September 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore if and how community organizations providing services to late-in-life Punjabi immigrants in British Columbia, Canada, offer services with the potential to promote their mental health or well-being. The authors also wanted to know how Punjabi seniors perceived available services and if they supported their mental well-being.


To guide the research, the authors used the VicHealth Framework, which identifies three overarching social and economic determinants of mental health: social inclusion (SI), freedom from violence and discrimination, and access to economic resources and participation. This mixed methods study combines descriptive survey and qualitative focus group data with input from Punjabi seniors and community service providers.


All three mental health determinants were identified as important by service providers and seniors, with SI as the most important. Family dynamics (shaped by migration and sponsorship status) influence all three determinants and can promote or diminish mental well-being.

Research limitations/implications

The pilot study is limited in sample size and scope and further inquiry with different groups of immigrant older adults is warranted.

Practical implications

Service providers assert that more outreach and sustainable funding are needed to reach the majority of potential beneficiaries unable to participate in community programmes. Information on mental well-being of seniors should be targeted at both seniors and their families.


The VicHealth Framework provided a unique lens through which to explore the contributions of community organizations to mental health promotion for immigrant older adults.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Community Action Initiative, in collaboration with the Province of British Columbia. Grant funding was aimed at mobilizing community groups to engage in mental health promotion. In-kind support was also gratefully received from each of the organizations with which the authors are affiliated. Special thanks are due for time and expertise afforded the authors by the advisory group (the ICARE community mental health working group), to the students of the University of Fraser Valley and Kwantlen University (Surrey) who served as note-takers at two forums, community organizers Rimple Mohindra and Lovepreet Gill, and the presenters and participants in the forums.


D. Koehn, S., Jarvis, P., K. Sandhra, S., K. Bains, S. and Addison, M. (2014), "Promoting mental health of immigrant seniors in community", Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care, Vol. 7 No. 3, pp. 146-156.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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