Finding Home Within: Mental Health Tips for Refugees

Finding Home Within: Mental Health Tips for Refugees

Table of Contents
  1. Establish a Routine
  2. Listen to Your Body
  3. Name Your Feelings and Deal with Them Mindfully
  4. Seek Community Support
  5. Access Resources
  6. Keep Informed 
  7. Stay connected
  8. Take Your Time

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that the global number of refugees, forcibly displaced and stateless people, reached 114 million in 2023, projected to rise to 130.8 million in 2024. The largest groups of refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and South Sudan, with the Syrian crisis remaining the largest refugee situation for several years.

On June 20, the international community joins for World Refugee Day to reflect on the bravery of people who have fled their homes due to conflicts, persecution, or human rights violations. It’s an important opportunity to foster empathy and understanding worldwide.

Loss of home and forced displacement can be deeply traumatic experiences, leading many refugees to struggle with diverse psychological issues, from feelings of alienation, anxiety, and irritability to more severe conditions like psychosis and depression. Supporting mental health is essential in these situations. While professional help is often necessary, today we want to shed light on self-help strategies and resources that are more accessible.

Establish a Routine

When the most fundamental parts of your life are undergoing drastic changes, establishing and sticking to a routine is essential. A daily schedule can provide a sense of normalcy and control. Include activities such as meals, exercise, and relaxation. If possible, incorporate enjoyable routines, like reading in a park or taking morning strolls through the city.

Listen to Your Body

Maintain good sleep hygiene by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, ensuring at least 7 hours of sleep. Remain active: you don’t need a fancy fitness class - simple exercises or walking around the city can reduce stress and improve your mood. Also, ensure you’re eating well. This might seem obvious, but healthy choices may require additional effort when you’re stressed.

Name Your Feelings and Deal with Them Mindfully

The first important step is to notice and name your feelings. Are you experiencing sorrow or anger? Grief or anxiety? Allow yourself to sit with these emotions and accept their presence. Listen to how your body reacts.

To manage these complex emotions, try breathing techniques, guided meditations, or journaling to see what resonates with you most. There are many free apps and online resources available, such as Headspace, Calm, How We Feel, and Healthy Mind.

Seek Community Support

Connect with other refugees or local communities that offer support. Sharing experiences with those who understand your situation can provide emotional relief and practical advice. Engage in community art projects, sports, or group exercises to foster social connections and stay active. Many local community centers and refugee support organizations offer mental health services, workshops, and support groups, providing a network for sharing experiences and receiving the support you need. Volunteering can also provide a sense of purpose and help integrate you into the community. Additionally, online forums and social media groups can be valuable sources of support and shared experiences.

Access Resources

Many non-governmental organizations, including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), provide mental health support services such as counseling, support groups, and emergency assistance. Organizations like the Refugee Trauma Initiative and War Child offer free or low-cost hotlines and online counseling services for refugees. Additionally, mobile apps and websites like Mental Health First Aid and Refugee Center Online provide a variety of resources, including self-help guides and connections to professional help.

Keep Informed 

Know your rights and the resources available in your host country – knowledge can empower you and provide a sense of security. 

Stay connected

Often, our body’s response to stress is to freeze. We might shut down and detach from our environment, typically escaping through activities like scrolling through social media or binge-watching TV shows.

However, human connection is essential for healing. While building new relationships in a new country can be challenging, the possibility of talking to loved ones, even if they are far away, is available. Talking on the phone can be more beneficial than texting on messengers, as it helps you feel closer to them.

Simply calling people from your past can improve your present state. It’s also a great way of staying informed on their lives, keeping them updated about your own, sharing emotions, and staying close to your roots; incredibly important for preserving your identity in a new country.

To keep connected with friends and family, Yolla provides high-quality connection, the lowest market rates, and no hidden charges or fees, ensuring your conversations are meaningful, long, comfortable, and easy.

For more information on international calling, please read our other useful articles:

Take Your Time

Healing takes time. Allow yourself to progress at your own pace without feeling pressured.

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