Monday 22 July 2019

Mental Health and the Asylum Process

African community the most, yet we hardly talk about it. Having a mental health condition or illness can be seen as a weakness or a failure, so the tendency is to hide it until it is maybe too late for early intervention.

One of the main causes of mental breakdowns or stress related mental illness now, is the limbo or the unknown way we are living because of the immigration issues or statuses we have. This hostile environment, has had numerous results, some intentional and others, almost expected, with those affected definitely predicted.

Some of us have been here in the UK for 10 years or more, by this time we are neither British nor Zimbabwean, thus the fear of this institutionally manufactured instability and precarious existence has caused many to fall mentally unwell.

The fear that I have is that I don’t have any ties of belonging in Zimbabwe anymore and the fact that the UK, is now my home but not really home is unnerving.  The loneliness that comes with this actuality and feeling is unbearable at times, especially as most of our loved ones have passed away and we could not get the expected and necessary closure of burying a parent, a child or for some, children or siblings, which, is never easy mentally no matter ones situation.

For some, the hope of settling down with a loved one and starting a family is fading away with age.  The body clock of a Woman tends to tick rather quickly in the wrong way, and from a tender age maturity is thrust upon by life’s actualities and certainties.

The dread and uncertainty, that one gets, as one hears from peers and reads, that the situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse and the fear that today, yes today, leads to one asking.  “If one is to be unjustly deported to Zimbabwe, will one survive?”  The obvious answer is, NO!  For most of us, this is the case, however, when I am barely living here as things stand, it’s mentally crippling.

It’s scary the fact that most of us cannot seek help for fear of being judged, or, misunderstood.  The fear of deportation is mind numbingly debilitating.  Thus, this makes it (the mental health) worse and most of us are so lonely and feel so cast out, as we lose hope and are left in this state of known, unknown, unknowns, both by the British immigration system and by the brutal, unfair Zimbabwean Government.  With nowhere to belong and nowhere to call home, let us speak up, let us get up and get the help we need.  Let them know how this Limbo is not just crippling us but is a breach of our human rights.

By Lindsey Zaranyika