Struggling with Mental Health – 35 signs and ways to help

Published 10th October 2022

People in vulnerable circumstances like asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are met with inconceivable challenges while seeking safety. In addition to having made harrowing journeys to the UK, people are to navigate the overly complex and prolonged asylum system, built by this government’s hostile environment. The multiple barriers they face all have a real and serious impact on people’s mental health and feelings of isolation and hopelessness.  

For World Mental Health Awareness Day 2022, we have made a list to help you spot the signs someone might be struggling, ways you can help and resources and services available to people seeking asylum and refugees. 

Physical signs 

  1. lack of energy, tiredness 
  2. restlessness and agitation 
  3. difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual 
  4. increase or decrease in appetite 
  5. unexplained aches and pains 
  6. self-harming 

Emotional signs  

  1. an unshakable feeling of sadness 
  2. having no interest in activities you usually enjoy 
  3. anxiousness 
  4. trouble concentrating or remembering things 
  5. difficulty making decisions 
  6. loneliness 
  7. low self-confidence and self-esteem 
  8. withdrawing from family and friends 
  9. irritability and impatience 
  10. feeling guilty for everything, as if everything that goes wrong is their fault 

Behavioural signs

  1. avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy 
  2. self-harming or suicidal behaviour 
  3. difficulty speaking, thinking clearly or making decisions 
  4. losing interest in sex 
  5. difficulty remembering or concentrating on things 
  6. using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual 
  7. difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much 
  8. feeling tired all the time 
  9. no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight 
  10. physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause 
  11. moving very slowly, or being restless and agitated 

How to help 

  1. listen when they open up to you about their struggle. Don’t necessarily try to find solutions for them.
  2. learn as much as you can about their condition. Understand they are not lazy or unmotivated. Mental health issues affect your brain. 
  3. encourage the person to seek help and support and offer to accompany them to appointments if they are anxious about going 
  4. offer your help with small tasks like bringing food or reminding them of an event
  5. remember depression is an illness. They won’t be able to recover straight away and you won’t be able to rescue them or fix the problem for them. 
  6. reassure them that they are loved and they are not alone 
  7. helping a loved one with mental health struggles can put a huge strain on you so make sure to look after yourself 
  8. get support through family and friends or through organisations. There are plenty of people who want to help. 

Mental health services and resources available to asylum seekers and refugees

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