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Master of Science


Epidemiology and Biostatistics


Dr. Kelly K. Anderson


Introduction: Positive mental health is of increasing interest as a public health measure, and is understudied among migrants.

Objective: The purpose of this project was to examine positive mental health and associated factors among migrants in Canada.

Methods: We used the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) 2011-2012 cycles. A total of 28,051 respondents identified as migrants, which accounted for 23.2% of the entire sample. Using multivariable regression models, positive mental health among migrants was compared to non-migrants, and the effects of sociodemographic, lifestyle, and health-related factors were examined.

Results: The present study found that time spent in Canada since migration affects positive mental health in migrants, as well as their own perception of mental health. Furthermore, several important factors that contribute to better positive mental health or self-perceived mental health were identified.

Conclusion: Strategies that promote positive mental health in migrants and education about factors that can contribute to better positive mental health should be encouraged.

Summary for Lay Audience

Traditionally, mental health has been viewed as the opposite of mental illness; however, the absence of mental illness does not mean that a person is mentally healthy and functioning well. Mental health is better defined as a combination of emotional, social, and psychological factors that are all required for a person to be mentally healthy. Rather than focusing on negative aspects of mental illness, there has been an increasing interest in research that studies mental health as a positive phenomenon. Research in migrant populations has largely focused on studying mental illness, and research on positive mental health is limited. The present study used data from the 2011-2012 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey to examine positive mental health in migrants.. Positive mental health was classified as flourishing or moderate-to-languishing. This study examined factors that may influence positive mental health in migrants such as sociodemographic, migration-specific, lifestyle, and health-related variables. Migrants were compared to non-migrants, and factors that were associated with positive mental health were identified. The present study found that long-term migrants were less likely to have flourishing mental health than non-migrants. Factors such as age, province of residence, income, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and perceived physical health were associated with flourishing mental health. As research on positive mental health in migrants is lacking, this study will contribute to the existing gap in literature to further our understanding of migrant-specific mental health.

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