Transcultural mental health services at LHSC for at-risk children and families

July 6, 2017

When the team from LHSC’s Transcultural Mental Health Consultation Service (TMHCS) recently presented a workshop at the Canadian Public Health Association Conference, conference participants continued their questions well beyond the allotted time despite this being the last session of the day.

Their topic, a collaborative approach to mental wellness for immigrant and refugee families, addressed the mental health and wellness of a diverse population whose needs are often not adequately met.

At LHSC the TMHCS is now in the second of its two-year pilot of the service.

“We serve those who identify as immigrant or refugee and are experiencing moderate to severe mental health concerns,” says Rita Van Meyel, Clinical Lead, TMHCS. “Because London is small and doesn’t have the ethnocentric health centres that a cities such as Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal have, it can be a challenge for the immigrant and refugee communities.”

TMHCS is made up of a multi-disciplinary team trained to provide family-centred mental health services that are comprehensive and integrated, and where cultural factors influence the client’s or family’s need.

Care is provided across the lifespan and clients may have experienced:

  • War or migration trauma;
  • Experiences of family separation and reunification related to migration;
  • Post-migration adjustment concerns;
  • Arrival as unaccompanied youth.

The service has a community advisory committee and works in close collaboration with community groups, such as Settlement Services and the Muslim Resources Centre for Social Support and Integration. These community partners often provide the referrals, and continue to support collaborative client care. Internally, TMHCS is also receiving referrals from urgent consultation, paediatrics and neuropsychology.

“There is a role for community partners to stay involved and be part of the regular communication to provide a successful link back to the family,” says Van Meyel.

TMHCS also works with the London community to provide cross-cultural education opportunities for community agencies as well as LHSC staff looking to expand their transcultural mental health knowledge.

For more information, please go to LHSC Transcultural Mental Health Consultation Service.

Fast Facts

Patient volumes from April 2016, when service began, to June 2017, with 1.2 FTE:

  • 93 clients referred
  • 10 were family referrals with a total of 46 family members
  • 40 individual referrals plus eight on wait list
  • Four to eight referrals per month
  • Referral sources include the Muslim Resource Centre, Settlement Services, general practitioners and paediatricians, hospitals, churches, school board, and London InterCommunity Health Centre.