oleh Sayed Mohamad Nabi
“Mental fitness is the first requisite of happiness.”
In May 2021, I had an opportunity to participate in a workshop for refugees called Socio-entrepreneurial Program for Refugees in Batam and Tanjung Pinang, organized by International Organization for Migration (IOM) and in collaboration with Sociopreneur Indonesia (SociopreneurID). From the workshop, one of the most important takeaways was how anyone could bring a positive impact to their surroundings if they choose to.
The program also guided the participants on how to provide solutions to existing challenges around us. Throughout the program, participants were required to start doing their own initiatives based on challenges that we have identified around them.
I already thought of an idea to encounter mental health issues among refugees. I called this project “Refugee for Refugee,” meaning the refugees themselves can help other refugees by listening to them, talking to them, sharing their strategies to cope with their living conditions. By understanding the worries and difficulties of others, we may access their talents and giving them hands for doing different activities which are applicable and beneficial.
More importantly, as a refugee, I can understand another refugee better than anyone else, so I thought of helping these types of refugees in another way. I also believe that this movement can bring these refugees back into society from isolation.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, mental health issues among refugees are getting its high rates each day. About one out of three asylum seekers and refugees experience high rates of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders. Risk factors for mental health problems include the number of traumas, the delayed resettlement application process, detention, uncertainty, and loss of support systems.
As a refugee who continues to evolve with most refugees in our accommodation, I have witnessed many fellow refugees who faced mental health issues. I have accompanied many refugees with sleeping disorders, long-term severe headaches and hopelessness to the hospitals or clinics and helped them with the translation/interpretation.
I sometimes visited some of the refugees in their room and listened to their pains. After talking about what they are feeling, they usually feel more at ease. As mentioned earlier, the contributing factors are many and additionally, based on my observation, refugees also worry about their future and their families in their home countries. Unfortunately, all of these contributing factors have led several refugees to commit suicide.
Sometimes I also tried to advise them for having some simple activities that they might have interests in, such as watching good movies, making friends, and doing exercises or using their skills to do anything they can.
In most cases, this idea had positive results. As Fred Rogers said:
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.”
When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. After starting the movement, I felt that it is good to continue to reach out to more refugees and get them to feel comfortable with me, especially because not everyone can be a good and trusted person to share about our lives and problems.
In closing, I would like to say that it is our responsibility to do anything we can do for other human being and helping them to survive. To let oneself be bound by duty from the moment you see it approach is part of the integrity that alone justifies responsibility.