Being an immigrant is not easy. Adapting to a culture you are not used to, learning a language that is completely new to you, trying to find the right places to eat, the right food to suit your taste buds or maybe trying to cook food that you are “familiar” with so you can have a little bit of home. Familiarizing with the environment, making new friends, looking for a job that is convenient for you, or attending school you will feel accepted and valued, all these things are what an immigrant has to learn and adjust to in a short space of time. In addition, there is learning new laws of a new country, a country you now call home but you don’t really have your family close by. This can be an exciting experience and also a difficult one. With change come responsibilities, new habits, and a lot of compromises and this can be mentally exhausting.
Then arrives COVID-19, in 2020. A disease that has killed millions of people and millions more still infected in the hospital or at home. It’s not an easy time for anyone especially immigrants. In most countries, the authorities are imposing a lockdown or a curfew which is something most of us are not used to. So, our favorite restaurant, favorite movie house, the bar we go to unload and talk about how much we miss home and our families are closed, the coffee shops we used to hang out and just enjoy conversation with each other are all shut down. For immigrants that were family and that was how we enjoyed a good day. Travelling calmed down our minds and gave us the greater feeling that learning about new social customs can be interesting. But now all we do is walking around our house, alone far from our families therefore, there is no place to relax our minds or to calm our nerves. Most flights are canceled or too expensive to take, so the only option is to stay inside and all day, all night 24/7.
People have lost jobs, houses, loved ones. The number of suicides keeps rising because of the toll of the pandemic on mental health. With the economy tanking and hospital facilities and stuff exhausted, in addition, the stress of not being able to physically visit a loved one in the hospital can trigger serious mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, etc. Most peoples’ jobs are on the line so going back home is not an option as this would mean living a paying job and piling up a huge amount of debt.
Mental health is something most people don’t really talk about but it is the leading cause of suicides. At a time where we are physically isolated from one another, we shouldn’t be socially or emotionally isolated. Let’s check on one another, make a phone call to a friend, a cousin, or a relative who is far away. A simple phone call or even a nice “Hello” can make someone’s day, help them feel loved, valued, and most importantly NOT FORGOTTEN.
?Rest of the world team?
Author: Nyasha Sarah