Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Geoffrey Nelson

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This research began a process and generated information that would help guide the Canadian Mental Health Association/Waterloo Region Branch (CMHA/WRB) in developing services that meet the needs of all residents in the area it serves. This project was comprised of two phases. The phases were conceptualized as being intervention cycles consisting of information, awareness and action-building components. The first phase consisted of work done within the agency itself, to help articulate the goals, attitudes, and possible barriers seen by the paid/non-paid staff towards the new multicultural emphasis. This work involved three focus groups with paid and non-paid staff. As well, a demographic profile was created to examine the demographic trends and composition of the Region. The second phase of the research involved consultation with the specific ethnic communities and other service providers in the community to help understand help-seeking patterns, barriers to service and mental health issues of the multicultural community. This phase consisted of a focus group and a community forum. Overall, past research in the community (Alcalde, 1992; Kramer, 1991) and the people consulted in this project have identified a variety of issues and barriers facing the multicultural community. These include: - Outreach. Segments of the community are not aware of CMHA services. A need has been expressed for CMHA services and resources both within this project and others (Alcalde, 1992). - Language and communication barriers. Language and communication barriers are a primary issue for the multicultural community and need to be addressed if people are to have fair and equitable access to services. - Need for information. Lack of information on services and mental health education is a significant barrier and mental health issue for the multicultural community. - Staff training. Cultural sensitivity training can be key in helping make services more accessible. Such training will help staff and volunteers work more effectively with multicultural clients by providing new tools, resources and understanding. - Networking and partnerships. Networking can help identify community needs and the supports and resources necessary for the agency to address those needs. Building partnerships is one significant response that can be taken to address the above issues. Connecting with other groups and key people from the multicultural community can provide the guidance and knowledge that the agency needs to address multicultural issues. Although the information generated in this project is not new, the process of generating this information has lead to increased awareness and action at the community and agency level. This project has acted as an initial bridge between the multicultural community and the agency. Future actions need to build on the "bridging" concept as the agency continues its efforts to become more inclusive.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season