Jacqueline Addo remembers the time two years ago when her husband Joshua confided to her that the stress of adjusting to life in Canada from Ghana was proving too much for him to bear.
He had reached a breaking point, and her own mental health wasn't great.
"I was just a shadow of myself, basically," she said.
Joshua was struggling to find a job in his field as a financial adviser, and had instead worked stints at a courier company and at Costco.
With Jacqueline looking after their children, they were unable to make ends meet on one salary and had to borrow money from family and friends every month to survive.
While Joshua has an administrative job with Nova Scotia Power today, and the couple is finally able to rest a little easier and plan for the future, not all immigrants fare as well.
The stresses caused by the upheaval of moving to a new country — and the often huge chasm between what immigrants are led to expect about life in Canada and the reality — can lead to depression, frustration and a loss of self-esteem, according to experts.
A study released in December by Mental Health Research Canada found that new Canadians are almost twice as likely to express concerns about feeding their families as people born in Canada.
It said food insecurity and isolation from a family and friends support network have been tied to higher incidences of mental health challenges.
In 2022, more than 437,000 immigrants moved to Canada. A record 12,500 of those arrivals came to Nova Scotia, according to a survey commissioned by the province — and that figure could rise, with Ottawa hoping to attract 500,000 newcomers a year by 2026.
Iqbal Choudhury is a PhD candidate at Dalhousie University whose doctoral research focuses on the mental health condition of immigrants moving to Canada.
Choudhury, who is from Bangladesh, said his research indicates immigrants tend to have better mental health than their Canadian-born counterparts.
Other research suggests people who successfully navigate Canada's immigration system, particularly in the economic class, are healthier because they are well educated, slightly younger than average Canadians and must go through medical screening.
But over time, he said, the mental health of immigrants deteriorates until it matches that of the general population — a phenomenon described as the healthy immigrant effect, or the immigrant paradox. One of the potential causes, he said, is stress associated with the acculturation process.