This program offers specialized mental health services to immigrant and refugee children, youth, and their families who have experienced trauma in another country, while on their journey to Canada, or while in Canada. Children and youth fleeing with their families from their country of origin, or dealing with resettlement and acculturation can face significant stressors and challenges and the OASIS Program is designed specifically to meet their unique mental health needs.
Immigrant and refugee families experience a great number of challenges and stressors not only prior to but also when they arrive in Canada. Parents must attend to the most important basic needs, including housing, school enrollment, employment, language skills, and health concerns. Seeking help for mental health-related issues is influenced by cultural factors and there tends to be an underutilization of these services. Families also face cultural and linguistic barriers that hinder their ability and desire to discuss historical trauma. There is a need to reach out to this population in a variety of ways and at different times and stages in their acculturation process.
THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Services works collaboratively with a number of agencies and organizations serving immigrant and refugee families in order to identify children and youth who would benefit from specialized intervention services to address issues related to trauma and acculturation.
With the financial support of Greenshield Canada, the OASIS Program began to pilot on-site services in Hamilton secondary schools several years ago. This allowed us to bring screening, assessment, and counseling supports closer to students who need them, and made accessing these services easier and more comfortable for young people. The pilot project provided important information to inform future program planning and was a welcome enhancement to the OASIS Program's outreach and engagement efforts. We continue to operate these school-based services today with the support of community donations. Most recently, a grant from Hamilton Community Foundation's ABACUS initiative has made it possible to bring OASIS Program supports into elementary schools in the form of school readiness classes for newcomer children in Grades 6, 7 and 8. This is an exciting enhancement to the programming we are able to deliver and a promising model for helping to ensure future school participation and success rates for this population of young learners.
The assessment aims to identify the traumatic events witnessed or experienced by children or youth, as well as to determine the impact these events and the acculturation process have had on their current functioning. Typically, an assessment will take one to three sessions with the Counsellor. Meetings are also held with the parents or caregivers and sometimes additional information is sought from other counsellors or professionals in contact with the family. A final report is prepared by the Counsellor following the assessment, highlighting and summarizing the information obtained in relation to various aspects of the child's functioning. The report identifies specific recommendations for treatment with possible intervention strategies.
Counsellors who are both culturally sensitive and competent provide individual and family counselling/treatment and address the recommendations identified in the assessment. Parental involvement and support is critical to the successful participation of the child. Psycho-educational sessions for parents are also provided. Trained Interpreters are made available. There are no fees for this program.
As with our other programs, a commitment to participating in and supporting research in the field which further improves the delivery and efficacy of services provided to children and youth is important to us. Participant involvement in any research is voluntary and choosing not to participate in no way impacts the provision or delivery of services to children, youth, or their families.
Requests for referrals to the OASIS Program can be made by calling CONTACT Hamilton at (905) 570-8888. The program brochure (right hand side of this page, below) also contains additional information.
OASIS featured on CBC - the OASIS Program has been featured in a 5-part series about mental health. Click this link to read the full article: CBC Hamilton