LT24::Leaving one’s family behind in pursuit of a livelihood, facing harsh experiences, getting cheated abroad and returning home with nothing – all of these make migrants mentally fragile.
And yet the issue of mental health care for them remains ignored.
A Brac Migration Programme survey conducted on 558 returnee migrants amid the pandemic found 74% of them to be under pressure, anxiety and fear.
Brac conducted the survey during the period April-May. The development organisation’s mental health counsellors found the returnee migrants under great strain as all of them had lost their jobs.
Around 1.55 lakh Bangladeshi migrants returned home after losing jobs during the pandemic, according to data from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training.
Now the returnees are worried about meeting their household expenses.
Earlier, many returnees also alleged that their employers had physically tortured them.
Khulna’s Runu Begum went to Saudi Arabia to have the wheel of fortune turn in her favour. But she returned to Bangladesh on Friday, having lost her sanity.
It is not only Runu but also many women like her who often return home in a state of psychological breakdown.
Brac Migration Programme Head Shariful Hasan said, “People tend to care about their physical health only. Migrants do not take care of their mental health. So they feel isolated and face a lot of problems.”
And mental health has become more important than ever with the pandemic changing lives considerably.
“During the Covid-19 crisis, we found most of the returnee migrants under great stress. So we need to ensure mental health care for them. It will help them make a turnaround later,” said Shariful Hasan.
The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, was “Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access.”
To mark the day, 15 psychosocial counsellors of Brac organised campaigns on mental health in 12 migration-prone districts of the country.
During the campaign, the counsellors provided mental health support to people from different walks of life, including returnee migrants.
Shariful Hasan said, “In the last three years, we have provided mental health care to at least 2,000 people. And during this difficult time of Covid-19, at least 3,000 returnees have been recipients of our tele-counselling services.”