Social and Emotional Development in the Early Years (0-3) & Working with Cross-Cultural Families


The Pinwheel Series offered by the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre is a group of free, all inclusive monthly education events. The aim of the series is to provide learning opportunities for the public on key mental health and healthy living topics, and to host a forum where people can engage in dialogue with experts and persons with lived experience. The series covers a wide span of topics related to mental health and substance use and would relate to a range of the services and participant barriers faced in delivering CAPC, CPNP and AHS programs. This session featured presenters from SHARE Family and Community Services  and the Alan Cashmore Centre . A few clear themes emerged based on the experiences of these organizations in supporting immigrant and refugee families on topics relating to infant and child mental health.

Reducing Stigma

Families from a wide range of countries of origin will bring different experiences and stigma regarding mental health with them to Canada. There is often confusion regarding what is entailed when accessing mental health services, as well as a fear regarding a permanent label being attached to a child.

Knowledge Gap

At SHARE, staff have identified a knowledge gap for immigrant and refugee parents on issues related to child development. Specifically, families may struggle with setting realistic and developmentally appropriate expectations for young children. Staff also work with parents on attachment theory, discipline, and the importance of play. When provide with this knowledge, the SHARE team has found that families are not only eager to learn and apply their newly acquired skills, but are also willing to help other families in situations similar to theirs.

Family Stress

Both presenters reflected on the stress many of the cross-cultural families they work with are under. Financial insecurity, a loss of labour market attachment due to credential recognition, isolation and cultural confusion all contribute to this stress and barriers to parent-child connection and attachment.

A recording of this one hour talk is available on the Kelty Mental Health website.