High Impact Associate or Full Professor Position (with tenure) in Mental Health in Children and Youth Presentation: Dr. Anusha Kassan

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Research Presentation:
9:00 – 10:30 am
Neville Scarfe, Library Block Room 278

Everyone is welcome to attend.

Dr. Anusha Kassan is a candidate for the High Impact Associate or Full Professor Position (with tenure) in Mental Health in Children and Youth  View Position Details. You can also view Dr. Anusha Kassan’s CV  here.


Presentation Title

Attending to the Mental Health of Newcomer Youth through the Process of School Integration



Hi, my name is Anusha and I am excited to be interviewing for the position in Mental Health in Children and Youth in the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. I have nearly 20 years of clinical and research experience centering on the mental health needs of youth and their families.

I am an emerging Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the CPA-Accredited Counselling Psychology program at the University of Calgary. I am also the Chair of the Section on Counselling Psychology of the CPA, an editor for Canadian Psychology, and a site visitor for CPA Accreditation. I completed my graduate studies at McGill University, which included a pre-doctoral internship in professional psychology at the University of California, Irvine Counselling Centre. Upon graduating, I held a Visiting Assistant Professor position in the Counselling Psychology program at the the University of British Columbia.

My program of study is influenced by my own bicultural identity and as such is informed by an overarching social justice lens. I am the director of the Vividhatà Research Lab – https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/research/vividhata/ – A space where my graduate students and I collaborate on culturally responsive and socially just research where community engagement is prioritized. My own research presently includes two major foci. First, I am studying the impact of migration experiences on different communities (i.e. newcomer youth, women, LGBTQ peoples). Second, I am conducting teaching and learning research, investigating multicultural and social justice responsiveness among psychology graduate students and supervisors. This scholarship has important implications for training, practice, research, and policy.



The 21st century has been identified as the age of migration (Castles, de Hass, & Miller, 2013), and this reality holds true across many Canadian provinces. There are presently over 1.6 million newcomer youth (i.e. immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers) between the ages of 15 and 24 living in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2016). In recent years, 90% of the individuals given permanent residency status in Alberta were between the ages of 15 to 24 (Citizenship and Immigration Canada, 2018). Moreover, the province has seen an influx of youth from Syria, as close to 60,000 refugees have arrived in the country over the past five years (Government of Canada, 2019).

For most newcomer youth, entrance into the school system represents their first point of contact with the host culture (Suarez-Orozco & Suarez-Orozco, 2001; Stermac, Clarke, & Brown, 2013); and is often a site where challenges to mental health and wellbeing are observed (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2016; Suárez-Orozco & Marks, 2016; Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). As such, a call has been put forth for educational strategies that promote cultural integration inside and outside classrooms (Alberta Education, 2010; Alberta Government, 2014). Further, the mental health and wellbeing of newcomer children and youth has been said to be of imminent concern (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2016; Yeh & Kwan, 2010).

It is believed that the long-term contributions that newcomer youth will make to the Albertan and larger Canadian community are dependent on their experiences as they integrate into high school (Areepattamannil & Freeman, 2008; Gallucci & Kassan, 2019; Naraghi & Kassan, 2015; Rossiter & Rossiter, 2009). Studies to date have shown that migration and its accompanied psychosocial adjustments are particularly complex and challenging during adolescence. While considerable research has been conducted in this area, scholarship tends to be segmented, quantitative in nature, and often neglects the perspectives of newcomers themselves.

Employing a social justice framework (Stewart, 2014), this collective case study (Stake, 1995, 2005) aimed to develop an in-depth, multi-layered, contextual understanding of school integration, by prioritizing the voices of multiple stakeholders (i.e. newcomer youth, teachers, service providers, and administrators). Defined broadly, the phenomenon of school integration centers on the adjustment of newcomer youth across all aspects of student life, including English language acquisition, academic performance, classroom behaviour, social networking, emotional well-being, involvement in school life (e.g. after-school clubs, events), and understanding of the school system (Gallucci & Kassan, 2019).

The process of school integration represents a new point of entry to study migration and sheds light on the mental health needs of newcomer youth. In this presentation, I will review the results of this study, particularly as they pertain to the mental health and wellbeing of newcomer youth integrating into a new school system in Calgary, Alberta. I will also discuss the transferability of these results as they relate to newcomer youth in other educational contexts as well as different groups of vulnerable children and youth across Canada.