An inability to find work despite being qualified is the biggest driver of mental health issues in African immigrant women, a new study has found.
The study, conducted by the Edmonton-based non-profit organization TCLI (Towunmi Coker Literary Initiative) Foundation, found that many women couldn't get positions in their own fields because they lacked Canadian experience.
The women took alternative jobs, but because their own career goals felt unattainable, their mental health suffered, according to the study released in early May.
"They experienced financial and economic stress, pressure of caring for the family, especially childcare compared to where they are coming from, where they could seek support. And a lot of this creates a lot of strain on them mentally," TCLI founder Towunmi Coker told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM on Friday.
TCLI works toward social and educational programming tools to help improve the quality of life of under-served communities.
Coker said African immigrant women can be left drained and anxious by the issues they face: having to take care of their families while experiencing culture shock in a new environment where they don't have community support.
The case study looked into the lives of 33 women for eight weeks. It consisted of seven virtual meetings and one in-person meeting at Wabamun Lake west of Edmonton.
Coker said the women were anxious but also very excited to share their stories. They were happy to see that there were other people who could relate to the struggles they were facing, she said.
'They are not alone'
Although Coker believes further studies are needed to better assess the needs of African immigrant women, in the meantime she is holding an event to focus on mental health awareness.
The virtual event called Mental Health: A Reality or a Myth will be held on May 29 and is open to the public.
"I'm sure there's still a lot of African communities where they don't like to talk about mental health issues... Some people feel like mental health programs are just things to shake off, and then you can be well once you shake it off," she said.
"This event will provide the opportunity for people to share their thoughts and realize that they are not alone."
She said the event will provide proper education on mental health and the resources available to them. At the event, expats will also have an opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences.
Anyone interested in attending the event can register on the TCLI website.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here