If you feel lost in a new country

  

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What can I do if I feel down and need help?

Moving to a new country and starting a new life can be difficult. Sometimes people can be too demanding. Such circumstances can be overwhelming and you might start feeling that you cannot cope with the situation. This is known as stress. Stress can affect all aspects of your life, including how you feel, how you behave and how you think. It can also affect your body and your physical health.

People who were forced to leave their homes and countries had often witnessed or been exposed to potentially traumatic events. These events may include:

  • seeing or being part of war combat
  • forced separation from family or close friends
  • death, loss or disappearance of family members or loved ones
  • physical violence or assault, torture, sexual violence and other frightening situations where you felt your life was in danger

Such experiences can affect your psychological and physical health and well-being. It is important to understand that everybody reacts to such potentially traumatic events in their own unique way. However, you can experience some typical reactions:

  • unwanted memories of such events overwhelming you in daytime or causing nightmares,
  • feeling and acting as if you are in danger or looking for potential danger, even when you are not in a situation that is in itself frightening,
  • avoiding thinking or talking about the difficult experience(s) from the past including having trouble remembering important parts of the past,
  • loss of interest in important activities that were once something positive,
  • feeling isolated from others.

Sometimes it is difficult to deal with that situation. If this begins to influence your daily life, it is good to seek professional help.

What is psychological help and who is it for?

PSYHOLOGICAL HELP

Psychological counselling and psychotherapy can help people deal with problems through conversation with specially educated professionals: psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and other professionals.

They can help you deal with problems in life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, for instance the death of a loved one; and specific psychological disorders, like depression or anxiety. Turning to professionals for help does not mean that you are weak or mad; psychological help is for ordinary people when things get too difficult.

Counselling and psychotherapy can be performed as conversations with an individual, family, couple, or group and can help both children and adults. The trust and relationship between you and your therapist is essential for you to work together effectively and benefit from the psychotherapy. That is why confidentiality is a basic requirement, which means that the professional helping you does not share your personal information with anyone else, including your family members.

Where can I get psychological help?

In Slovenia, you can get psychological help within the public health care system if your doctor refers you to a specialist; in that case, you do not have to pay for it. Asylum seekers and refugees can get free psychological help in different organizations. These organizations usually have interpreters who will help so you and the counsellor will understand each other. Interpreters also have to keep your conversation secret. If you need this kind of help, ask the social worker in the asylum centre for the list of organizations that can help you.

Are there any organizations who can help me?

– Support networks

As a newcomer in a country and community, you can benefit from getting in contact with other foreigners that have been living there for a while. Sometimes just talking and spending time with other people can be helpful in resolving difficulties and learning from experience of others.

Foreigners, particularly those who are asylum seekers and those who have been granted international protection, gather in supporting organizations, associations and clubs.

 

Q&A

Do I have to have a medical diagnosis to go to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

No. Psychological counselling or psychotherapy can help people with mental health disorders who have medical diagnosis. However, most of the people who come for psychological counselling or psychotherapy have transient psychological difficulties and do not need to go to the medical doctors and get diagnosed. This does not mean that they suffer less and talking to professionals can be helpful.

Do I need to take pills if I go to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

It is not necessary. The majority of psychological difficulties do not require medication. If, however, your counsellor or psychotherapist concludes you could feel better and recover sooner with medication, he/she will discuss it with you and explain to you the benefits and possible side effects and you can decide to take it or not. In Slovenia, only psychiatrists can prescribe medication for mental health problems.

Who will know about my going to psychological counselling or psychotherapy?

You, your counsellor or psychotherapist and interpreter, if an interpreter is needed. No one else will know, not even your family members if you do not share that information with them yourself. The only exception is if your life and safety or the life and safety of others are threatened. However, this is a very rare occurrence.