Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers often face traumatic situations, from the reasons that forced them to flee to the difficulties faced during migration. On many occasions, these situations leave physical and psychological traces. The visible consequences are the first to be addressed, but little by little mental health becomes a priority in the treatment of those who were forced to flee far from home.
Stories of fear and sadness are heard among internally displaced persons in the Central African Republic. There are hundreds of anecdotes that account for the consequences of the violence in the country and the children who were in the middle of that crossfire.
To try to heal the wounds of the little ones, the Red Cross set up a psychological counseling center. “They just lost their father and the dark thoughts have returned. Going to the counseling center helps them a lot, they listen to the advice they receive and behave differently at home, ”says Fatimé Aboubacar, a woman who was displaced with her two daughters.
The treatment includes individual sessions in which drawing, breathing and dialogue are mixed to achieve objectives. For the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, the sessions with the children are already paying off. “I am very happy to see that the first programs are starting to work, because it is true that, in the past, perhaps we paid a lot of attention to the physical aspect, we saw physical injuries and we treated them, but we did not see the invisible,” he says.
More than 200,000 people fled their homes since December 2020 following the outbreak of violence over the outcome of the elections in the Central African Republic. Some crossed borders and settled in Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Covid-19 and mental health, how to heal wounds away from home?
In the last year, Covid-19 has become an additional concern for those miles from their loved ones. The loss of a family member, isolation, and working online also affect the mental health of migrants. That is the case of Gabriela Castillo, a Mexican who was surprised by the pandemic thousands of kilometers from her home.
Gabriela receives psychological support in Paris thanks to the help of her country’s consulate in the city. “Everything came together, everything accumulated and after the summer, when sanitary measures were strengthened, this uncertainty triggered symptoms such as insomnia, tachycardia, tightness in the chest and emotions on the surface,” he says.
Gabriela is not the only Mexican who has asked for help. “More and more Mexicans, more young people wrote to us because they felt alone, they felt bad and depressed,” says Edgar Cubero, the Mexican consul in Paris.
Thus, mental health begins to be part of the agenda in the treatment of migrants, displaced persons and refugees in the world.
+ And the migration data of the week: Jordan opened the world’s first vaccination center against Covid-19 in a refugee camp. It is located in the Zaatari camp, where initially, some 2,000 people signed up to receive the antidote.