The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant deterioration to the peoples’ mental health, giving rise to a prolonged period of isolation.
And those living in foreign countries far from their loved ones or simply alone were among the worst affected. Prague Integration’s mission is ‘to help foreigners feel at home.’ We spoke with the CEO of Prague Integration, Amanda Mataija, about the cultural synergy, mental health, and the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prague Integration focuses on providing mental health support to expats and locals in Prague. They also host various events and workshops which you can attend in your free time. You can reach out to them here.
During the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a higher tendency to seek mental health support services. According to Amanda, they were receiving from twenty to thirty inquires daily. Even more so, expats were the ones who were interested in getting professional help – being far from home, not having anyone close in the country and feeling both physically and mentally isolated took a toll on the foreigners’ mental well-being.
‘That was one of the reasons I hired more counselors on board – to provide the needed help to foreigners,’ explains Amanda.
Certain mental health problems occurred more often than others
‘For now, what we identify is isolation, stress, social deprivation, depression, anxiety, migration grief, financial difficulties, the uncertainty as to when things get better,’ underlines Amanda.
Most clients report that they are far away from home and struggle with being alone.
Some people who were previously diagnosed with mental health issues have experienced the return or worsening of the symptoms. These people were matched with a specific counselor who is specialized in the client’s mental health issue.
Women seek help more than men
Amanda also shared that it is women as a gender group who seek help in about 70% of the time. They tend to ask for group support, ending up being matched with other participants in the Prague Integration community’s group support programs. Men, on the other hand, are asking for individual help.
‘I guess this tendency can be explained in the fact that men are still not ready to come into the group and discuss some problems and issues that are bothering them. As for the age group, it varies from time to time. Sometimes our clients are teenagers, occasionally retired people’
Amanda also mentioned that they have specific support groups for the LGBTQ+ community.
During the lockdown, cases of domestic violence increased by 40% in the Czech Republic
Amanda explained such huge numbers with the fact that people have switched their environments.
‘With home offices, the professional environment moves home with children. So, count in all of the financial struggles, job losses, domestic violence, and alcohol. There should be a solution where we don’t sit home and drink; we should identify this risk and have enough resources in the community to prevent it.’ From Amanda’s point of view, we need more awareness of that.
Certain tips can help you with isolation
- You need to define the things you can and cannot control.
For example, you cannot control the global pandemic. Still, you can control how you react to the pandemic, how you deal with your daily routine at home, how you interact with your family and friends, how you eat, and how you exercise.
2. Do what you love and stay busy
Amanda’s personal advice is to read a good book, watch a movie, eat well and healthy, be creative. She emphasized that ‘there is so much stuff you can do at home – yoga mat, weights, outdoor walk, taking care of an animal, staying connected with family and friends, and working on your mental health in the local community.’
We hope you stay mentally and physically healthy during these challenging times. Remember to seek help if you need it, there is always someone out there waiting to support you!