Syrian Refugees’ Stability and Opportunity in Canada and Implications on Mental Health

A Literature Review


  • Anthony Lorenzo Cherubini McMaster University



The Syrian conflict is a significant humanitarian crisis. An estimated 6.5 million Syrians have been forced to flee the Syrian Arab Republic since 2011. In 2015, the Canadian federal government promised to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees, and expanded the number to 40,000 in 2017. Since 2015, Canada’s intake of Syrian refugees has exceeded 50,000, representing the largest number of refugees admitted in Canada since the Immigration Act of 1978. This paper reviews and analyzes the literature corresponding to Syrian refugees’ experiences as they transition to Canada by exploring key topics including sponsorship streams, employment, housing affordability, language acquisition, and educational opportunities. It examines obstacles in Syrian refugees’ successful integration into the aforementioned community and social services and underscores the importance of providing financial and material support for language acquisition and education opportunities to improve Syrian refugees’ acculturation process. The findings reveal two key themes in the literature—financial stability, and language and education—which are discussed in the context of their implications on Syrian refugees’ mental health. The paper discusses how the challenges of integrating into a host country can significantly undermine refugees’ ability to transition successfully. The review points to the importance of providing Syrian refugees with the necessary financial and material stability so as not to compound the stress and anxiety being experienced during the transition. The importance of language acquisition and education programs are also discussed in the literature review in the context of better facilitating Syrian refugees’ acculturation and contributing to positive mental health outcomes.






Social Sciences & Humanities