Migration and Mental Health


Have you ever wondered if migration can have an impact on mental health? The transition from one country to another can be challenging, and especially so for young people who migrate to Australia or arrive as international students. They may experience a number of stressors that can affect their mental well-being.

One of the biggest challenges people face when migrating is something called acculturative stress. This is brought on by difficulties assimilating to the beliefs, values, and norms of the culture the person has moved into, and the frustration of limitations imposed by language barriers. Language barriers can lead to feelings of isolation and detachment, and can make it difficult for young people to feel a sense of belonging in their new community. This can be especially difficult for those who are still developing their language skills, and who may have trouble communicating with others. Many struggle to adjust to the new environment, which can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. This can be especially challenging for those who are not familiar with the cultural norms and expectations dominant here.

Another factor that can affect the mental health of people who migrate to Australia is discrimination. Experiencing racism and prejudice based on ethnicity, skin colour or nationality - often for the first time in their lives -  can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and anger, which can have a lasting impact on their mental well-being. The stress of dealing with discrimination can cause feelings of isolation, hopelessness and helplessness, and in extreme cases can result in race-based traumatic stress.

The challenges of adjusting to a new culture, the stress of language barriers, and the struggle to deal with discrimination can all contribute to mental health problems in migrants, young and old. While it is important for communities to support new migrants in Australia by providing them with access to information and resources, we cannot overlook cohorts like international students who arrive here often without their families or friends around. One of the many ways we support the communities around us is through providing subsidised counselling sessions for international students in Australia. Get in touch with us to know more!