Forced Migration and Migrant’s Mental Health

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA (Clinical Psychology)
Last updated date : February 22, 2023

Migration is when a person moves from one place to another. It can be intentional or forced. In forced migration, Migrants can face many issues. They face various stressors at many stages. This can affect their mental health. Their issues are often unheard of. This article deals with the topic of forced migration and migrants’ mental health.

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Chapter 1:

What Is Forced Migration?

When a person has to forcefully move out of the place of his residence, it is called forced migration. it can happen due to reasons such as:
  1. War: War is a very common reason. Here people do not have a choice. They have to leave everything abruptly. War destroys houses and cities, forcing people out of their homes.
  2. Poverty: When people can no longer afford the lifestyle of a place, they have to move to a cheaper place.
  3. Drought: When the only source of livelihood is harvesting, a drought can turn people’s lives upside down. Drought reduces people’s access to clean drinking water. Thus they have to move to a cleaner place.
  4. Floods: Floods wipe out people’s homes, forcing them to move to a safe location.
  5. Earthquakes: Natural disasters like these can force a person to move out of their residence forcefully.
  6. Displacement: When government plans to build public infrastructure, people living in that area have to be displaced. Therefore, this causes forceful migration.

Chapter 2:

Effects of Forced Migration

Forced migration impacts various aspects of a person’s life. These problems occur before migration, during migration and post-migration. Before migration, people can face problems like loss of job, hunger and poverty. They face exposure to violence and crime in case of war.

When people move from one place to another, they face challenges. This can involve moving through a risky area. Moreover, sometimes they forget essential items like documents behind. They are also risking their lives as they move through war-torn areas. There are other issues in the transit such as lack of food and water. There is a lack of safety as well.

In a new place, they face a different set of problems. They have to find a place to live. People of the new place don’t treat migrants well always. Migrants face suspicion. Migrants have to struggle to fulfil their basic needs in the new place. They don’t have a family for emotional support. Education of children stops at the midway. There are legal battles and problems with work permits.

Chapter 3:

How Does Forced Migration Impact the Mental Health of Migrants?

Migration involves changes. This change can cause distress. Moreover, they face feelings of anxiety, depression, and inability to sleep or concentrate. They have changes in appetite, body aches, anger issues or withdrawal from people at times. These symptoms improve over time but for some people, they can continue.

When these symptoms don’t improve over time, there is a possibility that the person is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Forced migration brings a lot of pain to the person. They have to leave the home that they had built with love and patience. They have to leave their families behind. This can cause a lot of trouble and pain to the individual. While some people can overcome this suffering over time, many find it difficult to cope with. They can have symptoms of trauma.

Apart from the trauma, there are also a lot of stigmas associated with migrants. People look at migrants with doubt. Migrants are often bullied. They fall victims to evil practices of abuse and trafficking. Migrant children don’t get admission to school due to a lack of legal papers. Migrants cannot find a job easily. All of this just adds to the financial woes of migrant families. This in turn impacts their mental health.

Chapter 4:

Risk and Protective Factors of Migrant’s Mental Health

Poverty, lack of financial security, hunger, safety threats, etc are all risk factors for negative impact on migrant’s mental health. For example, a bad socio-economic situation and hunger can both lead to depression. When a migrant has compromised security, they can have anxiety. If a person already has some mental health problem, these factors can worsen the condition.

Children can face racism and discrimination in school. It can lead to anger issues or withdrawal among children. Moreover, it leads to fights with peers.

There are protective factors that shield a person from the negative impacts of migration. Some of them include emotional bonds with loved ones. Other factors include monetary security, safety in the new place or government schemes that aid migrants. Moreover, some factors such as empathy towards migrants also protect their mental health.

Chapter 5:

Addressing Forced Migration and the Needs of Migrants

Forced migration is never pleasant. It affects many people around the world. It takes away their freedom and they have to forcefully stay in another place. The tag of ‘migrants’ gives them a feeling like outsiders. Addressing the needs of migrants is a holistic approach. It should include all stakeholders such as the government, social workers and citizens of the place. Moreover, It is important to understand their roadblocks to access mental health.
Ways to Address Forced Migration and Migrants’ Mental Health
On the individual level, we should become aware of migrant issues. This can be done by reading more about their conditions. Volunteering in refugee centres. We can also get knowledge by speaking to migrants and creating awareness on social media pages. At individual levels, you could direct the migrants to community centres. You can also take them to community healthcare units.

Forced migration impacts health on large scale. Health care centres should be integrated with migrant care centres. Migrants should be provided with health care at a minimum cost. These centres should have provisions to deal with mental health.

Awareness campaigns to explain migrants about their rights. They should be taught how to avail services. This knowledge should be translated for the migrants.

Focusing on legal aid so that the migrants can get a job and improve their lives. There should be free legal services or affordable aid.

It is important to focus on mental health, more importantly on trauma. This can help prevent suicide, depression or anxiety.

Ensuring that there are various methods and modes of help available such as online help. There can be audio call services that inform migrants about the help that is given to them.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind that social integration and inclusion are very good ways to address the migrant crisis. They had to forcefully leave their homes and come to a different place, Therefore making them feel comfortable at a different place can help them a lot.

Chapter 6:

How Migrants Deal With Loss-Tips for Managing Mental Health While Migration

When someone has to move to a completely different place, it turns their life around. They have to deal with several changes in many aspects of life. Over here it is important to look after physical health and mental peace.

Here are some steps that can help migrants deal with their loss and manage their mental health:

  1. Manage Your Finances: It is important to keep some amount of savings for an event like migration. Invest wisely to secure your future.
  2. Strong Will: Migration is a traumatic event. However, a strong will serves as a protective factor against depression. It also gives courage to other family members to endure.
  3. Ask for Help: You may want to ask for financial assistance from people you trust and love. It is important to have this support to move on in life. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. So when you need money, emotional support or mental health help, ask for it.
  4. Find Hope: Although it is a very inconsiderate thing to say to a migrant, it is also a key to survival. Hopeful people have better chances of survival. This is because they will become strong when they have something to look forward to.

At Epsychonline, there are affordable self-help courses that can help you or others to deal with loss. These courses are created by experts and are cost-effective. Do check them out.

"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount