Two Chinese-Nova Scotians are setting up a mental health support service aimed at the growing community of international students from China.
They say there are few mental health options in other languages, and that causes many Mandarin and Cantonese speakers to turn away from help.
“I’ve always had a passion to help newcomers,” said Jinbo Chen, one of the organizers. “Mental health issues are one of the issues that I really care about.”
Chen moved to Halifax in 2002 as a university student, and remained in Halifax to work and raise a family.
He says Chinese international students face stress and mental health issues for many reasons, including loneliness and isolation, workload, and parental expectations.
“A high percentage of them, it’s not because they want to come here — their parents want them to come here,” Chen said. “If they cannot achieve a certain level or score, it might have some stress with their family.”
Chen said many students are also coming to university in their late teens or early 20s, and may struggle with issues such as what direction to take, addiction problems, or romantic problems, all of which could contribute to mental health problems.
‘They preferred to speak to a person who speaks Chinese’