This year's Mental Health Awareness Week focused on the growing issue of loneliness. Asylum seekers and refugees are especially vulnerable to social isolation - and the effects are devastating. How can we help?


Saying goodbye to your home because you have no choice - it's not safe anymore. Leaving your entire family behind to start anew somewhere you've never been before, with no ties to fall upon. Where do you even start? The stress of it all, and no one to talk about it with.


The immediate danger has passed, but what now? Back home, this time of year would have meant buoyant celebrations; everybody gets together for Eid, and the atmosphere is unlike anything else. This year, you're sitting in your room alone.


If you're lucky, this will read like an imaginary scenario. But for refugees, this is reality.


Loneliness affects everyone - but some can fight it more easily


We all feel lonely sometimes - but for some, connection can be harder to reach. Language barriers and cultural differences are fuel to the fire of social isolation. This means refugees are especially at risk.


Loneliness affects our health in many negative ways - depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, sleep problems and increased stress* can all be exacerbated by lack of connection to others; prolonged isolation also increases our risk of illness - such as high blood pressure, heart disease or weakened immune system*, just to name a few.


What can you do?


Work, hobbies and classes are some of the more obvious places to meet new people. Find out what's going on in your area, check out local charity events, ask around.


Places of worship - in mosques, synagogues, temples or churches, you're sure to find communities that will welcome you as a new member.


Technology is a friend. Dating apps aren't just for for romantic relationships - friendship apps exist too. 


Check on your friends and look out for new community members. Anything can be a cause for celebration, so why not invite people over?


If it gets too much...


Paiwand offers free mental health support in the form of one-to-one counselling as well as group sessions.


We respect the cultural and linguistic needs specific to refugees and asylum seekers; whatever the issues you are struggling with right now, we can help you.


To refer yourself to our Mental Health service, or if you have any questions, click here




Leave a comment