April 2019- Autism Awareness Month

autism awareness month 2019

Autism Awareness – April 2019

 Facts, Resources and Some Trivia

  1. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder.
  2. 1 in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
  3. Globally, the prevalence of ASD is increasing. This may be due to increased awareness and improved diagnostics and reporting.
  4. Available research evidence suggests that there are many factors contributing to ASD, including environmental and genetic factors.
  5. There is conclusive evidence that there is no association between vaccines and ASD.
  6. ASD consists of a range of conditions characterized by varying degree of difficulties in social behaviour, language and communication, and a narrow range of interests.
  7. Although the symptoms that result in a diagnosis of autism can vary significantly between individuals, the shared commonalities of autistic behaviours include communication-emotional-sensory symptoms that impact an individual and how they relate to others.
  8. ASD can affect an individual’s participation in their communities. They may have difficulty in school and in finding employment. Many individuals diagnosed with ASD can function well and live independently, but some have severe impairments and need long-term care and support.
  9. Caring for children with severe ASD is demanding and can be stressful. Families of children with ASD frequently experience high levels of stress and psychosocial difficulties. These may lead to physical and mental health issues, marital difficulties, and economic problems.
  10. Culture plays an important role in how families cope. Service providers need to be aware of the processes of acculturation and ethnic identity and implement culturally appropriate interventions.
  11. People with ASD have a higher likelihood of needing mental health services due to co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety. It can be difficult for people with ASD to access appropriate mental health care.
  12. Mental health services for people with ASD can be effective when treatments account for the specific impact of autistic symptoms on mental health and well-being.
  13. Interventions for people with ASD need to be accompanied by support programs for caregivers as a critical component of ASD interventions.
  14. Globally, access to services and support for people with ASD is inadequate. Individuals with ASD can be stigmatized and often experience discrimination and human rights violations.

Did you know:

  • Autism was first recognized as a diagnosable condition in the 1940s.
  • Many people with autism identify strongly with music and many have exceptional musical abilities including extraordinary musical memory and pitch recognition.
  • Many successful interventions for ASD are music-based.
  • The significance of music in the lives of people with ASD has been widely observed and researched.
  • Some of the well-known musicians portrayed as musical savants include the Canadian pianist Glenn Gould and the American composer Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggns.


MMHRC News: New Content in Farsi

New Mental Health Information Sheets in Farsi

We’re excited to announce new additions to our website content!

The updated pages include newly designed and translated mental health information in Farsi.   We’ve also improved the structure so the content is more easily accessible to Farsi speaking communities.

There’s a host of new content:

Ranging from general information about mental health, coping with mental illness, caring for family members with illness, to information on how to live well. We hope the content and the easy access to the materials will make the search and the navigation experience of the site much better for you.

Spread the information and invite colleagues and friends to check out the new content in Farsi.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – November 26, 2018

November 26, 2018

Violence and Abuse against women and girls is a significant Global Health Problem around the world.

It is estimated that 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  Reports of homicide crimes against women reveal that half of all female victims were killed by their partners or a close family member.

A high proportion of physical and sexual abuse against women and girls is committed by male intimate partners. An intimate partner may be a spouse, a former partner, boyfriend, a date, or a family member.

This violence impacts women and girls’ mental health as well as physical and reproductive health in significant ways. In addition, women with mental health problems, physical illness, alcohol, and drug abuse problems have a high risk of experiencing intimate partner violence and abuse which in turn worsens their conditions leading to an escalating downward spiral of disempowerment and vulnerability.

If untreated, victims may develop psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, impulsivity, or substance abuse. They may also develop physical problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and childbirth complications, chronic pain, headaches, or debilitating fatigue. If there are risk factors for or actual pre-existing illnesses, they can worsen and lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.

Children of abused women are at elevated risk of developing mental health problems.

Research shows that male and female children of abused women have an elevated risk of developing mental health problems and higher susceptibility to later-life social problems. Children born to battered women have a higher risk of preterm delivery, low birth-weight, and neonatal death.

When the violence is perpetrated by an intimate partner or a trusted individual such as a family member, the experience of trauma can be severe and prolonged,  creating extra vulnerability and a sense of helplessness leading to a high chance of revictimization.

In cases of chronic violence, such as cases of long-term childhood physical or sexual abuse,  the victims experience chronic trauma that affects their ability to function for many years or their entire lifetime. Abused women and girls are at higher risk of facing social challenges such as unemployment, homelessness, trouble at school or in their workplace.

Violence against women and girls takes many forms:

  • Battering
  • Rape and other forced sexual acts including refusal to use protection
  • Child physical and sexual abuse
  • Child marriage
  • Bullying
  • Cyber-stalking
  • Financial or economic abuse for example by controlling access to finance
  • Female genital mutilation

Risk Factors for gender-based violence

  • Young age
  • Old age and frailty
  • Mental illness
  • Inadequate social networks, lack of family or community support
  • Cultural belief systems that promote or perpetuate gender-inequality
  • Social isolation
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Power imbalances between partners
  • Low educational achievement


Violence against women can occur in all cultures, races, and societies.

Violence against women can occur in all cultures, races, and societies. In all societies, gender inequities are linked to increased violence against women.

Violence against women is a major obstacle to achieving equality, development of civil society, peace, and the fulfillment of human rights.

Marginalized women may be at increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence. They face multiple barriers due to additional factors that exert structural violence against them: discrimination, not being believed, difficulty accessing support, and finding safety.

  • First Nation, Métis and Inuit women and girls experience domestic violence and abuse at significantly higher rates than other women in Canada
  • Immigrant and refugee women who experience intimate partner violence face numerous barriers and challenges to disclosing and reporting abuse, accessing supports and services, and navigating intersecting legal processes and social support systems.
  • Marginalized women may be at higher risk of gender-based abuse and violence.

Some of the risk factors for refugee, immigrant, asylum-seeker, and other marginalized women include:

  • Immigration policies that leave immigrant women without recourse to the judiciary system
  • Temporary foreign worker status
  • Refugee claimants with precarious status
  • Cultural beliefs that discourage disclosing “private” matters
  • Loss of culture or acculturation
  • Loss of family structure due to immigration to a new country
  • Economic insecurity including those resulting from non-recognition of professional/educational credentials
  • Discrimination and racism within the service delivery system
  • Inadequate social networks, lack of family or community support
  • Cultural belief systems that promote or perpetuate gender-inequality
  • Social isolation
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Power imbalances between partners
  • Low educational achievement

Resources for Women and Girls

If you are experiencing intimate partner violence or abuse, reach out to a trusted person, a friend, or a medical professional. You can also find services across Canada online or by phone


Francophone services

Francophone helpline for women 1 877 Fem-aide

Services in English or other languages

Assaulted Women’s Helpline 1-866-863-0511 – TTY 1-866-863-7868

Online resources


Resources for health professional working with victims or survivors of violence


Resources for Community Organizations

Migrant Mothers Project

National Resource Centre on Violence Against Women

A collection of digital stories was created by women who have a precarious immigration status in Canada and their advocates. The stories document the personal struggles faced by immigrant women who do not have citizenship or permanent residence. Each story illustrates how immigration policies impact women’s efforts to support themselves and their families while striving to build their lives in Canada.


Resources for Policy

Reports on the mechanisms through which Canadian Immigration Policies can increase the risk of violence and abuse for women:


Canadian Muslim Mental Health Conference

On behalf of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto (formerly Pillar 4) and the Muslim Medical Association of Canada(MMAC), we would like to invite you to the 3rd Annual Canadian Muslim Mental Health Conference (CMMHC) on Sunday December 16th 2018 at the Medical Sciences Building, University of Toronto.

Tickets are now on sale at mmac.yapsody.com. Please find the tentative program here as well.

We are currently recruiting highly dedicated and motivated volunteers for the conference. Please fill out this online form if you are interested in volunteering with us: https://goo.gl/forms/5jRuFydLSyp6sJSr2

We are also still open for research submission – please see the call for abstracts. Abstracts can be submitted in English or French at www.tinyurl.com/CMMHCabstract (deadline November 18th).

The conference has four main objectives:

1) To bring together and strengthen connections between health care providers, organizations, individuals with lived experience, students, spiritual leaders and researchers working with Muslim mental health issues in Canada and

2) To provide psychoeducation to the general public on mental health topics in the context of spirituality and Islam and

3) To decrease the stigma of mental illness within the Muslim community and

4) To increase access to culturally and spiritually appropriate mental health resources to the Muslim community

Please find past programs here for your information:

The Canadian Muslim Mental Health Conference focuses on mental health topics in the context of spirituality and is open to Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds. Speakers and panelists will include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists and spiritual leaders. The conference is scheduled from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm with the keynote speaker in the morning.

The mental health conference is the only annual national Muslim mental health conference in Canada. We have several national and international speakers and experts joining us. We had a great turnout last year with over 180 attendees ranging from physicians and allied healthcare professionals to religious scholars. The breadth and depth of our speaking panel attracted a diversity of attendees from several cities across Canada and beyond.

We look forward to a blessed conference that is useful to all those who attend and participate.


No One Is Illegal – Vancouver » Blog Archive » Border Rights for Refugees: A multilingual guide

Source: No One Is Illegal – Vancouver » Blog Archive » Border Rights for Refugees: A multilingual guide

Thousands of refugees are crossing the Canada-U.S. border, many fleeing escalated sociopolitical, white supremacist, misogynist violence and I.C.E raids in the U.S.

In the first two months of this year, approximately 2000 refugee claims were filed at land ports of entry along the Canadian border. In Quebec alone there are six times more land-border refugee claims than in the same period last year. RCMP have intercepted or arrested (not yet charged) 1,134 refugees – nearly half as many asylum seekers in three months as all of the previous year.

Hundreds have been forced to cross irregularly under dangerous and life-threatening circumstances. People who have contacted us and our networks are primarily from Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Djibouti, Ghana, Nigeria, and Mexico.

The Canadian government and corporate media’s rhetoric about ‘welcoming refugees’ is misleading. There are many discriminatory and unjust barriers, such as the Safe Third Country Agreement that the Canadian government refuses to rescind, and a difficult legal system for refugees to navigate if coming through the U.S. This guide is to better inform and support those making the difficult decision to cross yet another colonial border.

The guide is produced by No One Is Illegal and the Immigration Legal Committee of the Law Union of Ontario. Supported by the African-Canadian Legal Clinic.

Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Supporting Refugee Integration | migrationpolicy.org

Tech communities in Europe and North America have been spurred into action by the refugee crisis, developing apps and other tools that can be used along the journey, immediately upon arrival, and for longer-term integration into the host society. This report maps several types of emerging tools and considers how policymakers responsible for refugee integration might play a more active role in supporting the most promising.

Source: Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Supporting Refugee Integration | migrationpolicy.org

Mental health medication information in Chinese (Med Ed)

in this Cantonese video, Dr. Kenneth Fung discusses the Chinese version of Med Ed, a booklet which helps teenagers with mental health issues to understand their medication and its side effects and to help them track their side effects, symptoms and changing dosage.

The first of its kind, Med Ed is for people who are thinking about or are already taking medications for mental illness or related symptoms. It includes answers to common and less common questions about these medications as well as checklists and other tools to make tracking symptoms, activities, and side effects easy. Brief information is provided about medications known as antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety and sleep medications, stimulants, and mood stabilizers. There are tools to help keep track of the medications, by name, dose, and directions, and a glossary to help understand the many different terms.

It was originally developed, in English and French, by Drs. Murphy, Gardner, and Kutcher of Dalhousie University in collaboration with the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO. In collaboration with the Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre at McGill University, versions of Med Ed have been developed in Arabic and Chinese.

Med Ed is available on this website in English, French, Arabic and Simplified Chinese.