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Master of Arts




Claire Crooks


Centre for School Mental Health

2nd Supervisor

Maisha Syeda


Centre for School Mental Health



This study investigated the feasibility of virtual Supporting Transition Resilience of Newcomer Groups (STRONG) delivered through a community agency. STRONG is a Tier-2 intervention developed to enhance resilience and coping among newcomer youth. Ten youth participants from two STRONG groups completed pre-and post-surveys and participated in a focus group to describe their experiences. Parent sessions were added to STRONG programming. Five parents completed a satisfaction survey and a focus group to share their feedback. Two clinicians and one community manager provided feedback on the implementation in two focus groups. The study used a mixed-method approach. While there were no significant increases of STRONG skills in the quantitative results, youth reported increased social connections and coping skills in the focus groups. Parents indicated satisfaction with STRONG and parent sessions and provided feedback in the focus group. The findings revealed specific implementation successes and barriers and their implications for future practice and research for community implementation of STRONG.

Summary for Lay Audience

Newcomer families with refugee backgrounds come to Canada after facing several challenges from their home country, moving journey, or from their lives in their new environments. The hardships can be living in a war zone, discrimination, finding jobs, and more. These challenging situations can impact the well-being of refugees, including children and youth. Despite those hardships, newcomer youth show resilience, and their resilience can be further enhanced through community support that can be supported by community help.

Newcomers might have a more challenging time accessing mental health services to help them deal with their past and present stressors once they arrive in Canada. We collaborated with a newcomer-serving community agency to virtually deliver the STRONG program to newcomer youth. The community partnership reduced some barriers for newcomer youth to access a mental health intervention. The STRONG program builds resilience, promotes social connections, and teaches youth coping strategies to manage distress. Results from the surveys did not show a difference before and after the program in resilience, social connections or STRONG coping skills. However, the youth shared in the focus group showed that they enjoyed the celebration, breathing exercises, and sharing their story in STRONG. As well, they used some of the coping strategies in their daily life such as breathing exercises. The youth liked that STRONG was easy to access, but found the internet connection to be challenging sometimes. The youth said they would recommend STRONG to other newcomer youth to practice their English, make friendships with others, and share their story.

There were three parent sessions to familiarize parents with concepts taught to their children in STRONG. Parents filled a survey and participated in a focus group to give their feedback. Parents identified specific outcomes for their youth after program completion and also appreciated having a unique space to share their stories and connect with other parents.

We also evaluated the implementation successes and barriers of virtual STRONG in the community. Successes were linked to the strong partnership between the research and community sites, while many of the challenges were related to virtual delivery (e.g., unstable internet connections).