Let’s break the silence on mental health issues for NRIs

“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, YOU ARE NOT THE RAIN.” — Matt Haig

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

The thought of living abroad in a new country comes with its excitement, making us picture a happy life full of adventures and new experiences. However, very little thought is given to the set of difficulties and concerns that come along with relocating. If these issues are not timely addressed, overtime, they might lead to serious mental health issues.

Various studies from well-known research institutes into the array of mental health of expats have concluded that that expats were three times as likely to express or endorse feelings of being trapped, isolated or depressed. On a broader level, 50% of expats were found to be at a high risk of internalising common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Having grown up in an Indian society, socializing and being connected to people becomes an integral part of life. When relocating to other country, one of the biggest challenge the NRI’s face is separation from friends and families. If not tackled appropriately, homesickness and isolation can become a major issue and might translate into feelings of incompleteness, depression, and isolation. Some people might even face “expat grief” when they grieve for the life and friends left behind.

Some other issues the NRI’s face can be in the form of lack of support and language barriers, cultural shock, the need to develop a high-level of self-sufficiency and facing unrealistic and unmet expectations. Also, many tend to take the routine to extreme, trying to overfill the day. This too can lead to physical tiredness impacting mental health with mood changes, trouble concentrating, and anxiety. Some of them have an added pressure of making their long-distance relationship work along with all the new changes happening in their life.

Here are some things that an NRI can do to protect their mental health.

  • Getting connected with other people through various expat groups
  • Joining a new activity or a team in the new city
  • Attending social events with new colleagues
  • Making calling friends and family at home a priority
  • Regular exercise to reduce depression
  • Getting enough sleep to keep up the energy levels
  • Not overdoing things and having time to unwind

Early recognition of the symptoms of mental illness can be vital to getting timely help. Being moody and anxious all the times, withdrawing yourself from others, not enjoying the activities once enjoyed, feeling lonely and misunderstood – all these are indicators that one is experiencing psychological issues. Sleep and appetite changes, drop in functioning, illogical or problems thinking and increased sensitivity also point out to presence of mental disorders. People often might not take them seriously or fail to acknowledge them. Some might decide to distract themselves by pursuing activities which they might not usually do or enjoy.

Talking about the issues you are going through to your close confidants can really help tackle them. The support of the near and dear ones is of utmost importance. However, for NRI’s living on their own in an unknown country, might not have that comfort. In such cases seeking professional help can become inevitable. There is lot of stigma attached to getting help for mental issues which might discourage people from getting qualified help. Also, lack of support in the Indian language they are comfortable in, might add to the constraints from getting counseled. Counselling generally tends to be expensive and not everyone can afford it.

In such cases, NRI’s may want to approach a program specifically designed for them, available in the language of their comfort and light on the pockets. Shrinkclub is such an online platform having a dedicated NRI counselling program to find solutions for life problems, family conflicts, mental and psychological issues for Indians living abroad. The ease of approaching the mental health professionals, the effective counselling and emotional support provided on this platform enables to foster mental health. It helps you arrange discrete expert online counselling led by the best online psychologists in India to help you get back to a life that is cooler, calmer, happier and more enjoyable than ever.

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