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Immigrant youth tackle mental health stigma in first-of-its-kind Canadian summit

United Voices is lead by HEADSTRONG and Immigrant Services Calgary and marks the first mental health summit in Canada focused on immigrant youth.
“United Voices” marks the first mental health summit in Canada focused on immigrant youth.

Although the world is now more educated about mental illness, stigma is still a serious problem for refugee and immigrant youth.

On Saturday, October 26th, 2019 youth of all cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds residing in the Calgary area will come together to participate in United Voices, a one day summit to empower youth and tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness in their communities. This summit is part of an anti-stigma initiative spearheaded by Immigrant Services Calgary, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the participation of 17 youth/immigrant services agencies.

The collaboration between these immigrant-serving agencies is a remarkable one for Calgary. Never before has an intersectional partnership of this size occurred, and the summit itself is being recognized as the first mental health summit in Canada focused on immigrant youth, based on the framework of MHCC's HEADSTRONG program.

“We’re giving a platform for immigrant youth to learn more about mental health and stigmas surrounding them” said Hanne Brahim, Youth Inclusive Program Coordinator at Immigrant Services Calgary. “Immigrant Services Calgary is honoured to be chairing this event which gives a platform for immigrant youth to learn about ways to cope, reach out, and support others. Our goal is that they use these resources to support their peers and families”.

The day of the summit will include presentations from guest speakers, interactive breakout sessions, and a keynote presentation from Edmonton’s Poet Laureate, Ahmed Ali (Knowmadic). The summit aims to normalize the conversation surrounding mental health for youth from communities where mental illness may be more stigmatized, and to create groups in schools that can foster supports by-youth-for-youth. Lived experience speakers from immigrant backgrounds are just one of the ways the summit hopes to bridge the gap between mental health and cultures where it may still be misunderstood.

United Voices will take place at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Genesis Centre Community Gym (7555 Falconridge Blvd NE). This is a free public event, but registration is required by clicking here.