Report Says International Students in Canada Need More Mental Health Support

mental health

Suicide among international students in Canada is growing and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation, according to a report released in January by One Voice Canada, which is a non-for-profit organization that focuses on bridging gaps between local communities and international students. 

The report named “Realities for International Students: Evidenced Challenges” focuses on issues related to Canada’s international student program among Indian international students

The report states that there is a lack of easily accessible mental health supports available to international students, where they might not be able or do not want to express the need for the support, reports.

Khalsa Aid’s International Students in Canada Survey revealed that 6 in 10 students experience well-being problems, while 3 in 10 suffer from a clinical or major depressive disorder.

“Students and their families believe it will be easy to settle here. But many students realize it is a struggle after they arrive, and they feel stuck,” One Voice member and former international student Rajpreet Sohal said.

According to data by the BC Coroner Services, at least 15 international students committed suicide between the period 2013 and 2018, yet according to the report, this number may be underestimated.

A high proportion of international students coming from modest-income families have reported they are struggling to cope with pressures that are mainly caused by the high costs of tuition and living, obligations to make debt payments, challenges in academic performance, and struggles to find a job to obtain a work permit.

 “For many international students, coming to Canada is not just about obtaining skills – it is also about escaping poverty. For many of these students, pursuing an international education is their best opportunity to achieve social mobility and support their families,” the report reads.

According to the report, the high cost of tuition and housing is a burden for many international students. The International Students Within Canada survey has found that 9 in 10 students are worried about their expenses while in the country, whereas almost 7 in 10 students have a familiar debt or loans taken to cover costs for education.

In order to cover their expenses, many international students work illegally, and some even resort to paying employers to receive a residence permit.

“Many students must also earn money to help their family pay back the loan(s) they have taken out to send them to Canada,” One Voice Canada report adds.

According to data, there were 530,540 international students in Canada during 2020. British Columbia and Ontario are the top study destinations for international students, representing 71 percent of all international students in Canada.

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