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World Mental Health Day

The violence of waiting and the repressive bureaucratic shortcomings, which materialise in institutional and administrative violence as well as the absence of safe and legal channels, mean that the migratory process and the necessary obtention of documentation to be able to leave the cage-city that is Melilla for some people, becomes the direct cause of a problem that is rarely talked about: the mental health of migrants.

This is the case, among many other existing realities, of people who were formerly under the care of the Melilla administration and find themselves, age 18, on the street, without resources to turn to while they obtain the necessary documents to continue their procedure to be able to travel to the peninsula to continue their migratory project.

After spending years in a centre for minors, where they suffer from systemic shortcomings and rights violations, psychological and physical violence, and a latent dichotomy around the concept of being a migrant and a minor, they have to face the streets, with all that entails.

In a border city like Melilla, living on the street as a racialised person becomes even harder. For this reason, many of the people who have been under the care of the administration, some of whom Solidary Wheels has met through its work in the field, end up in a spiral of consumption and survival from which many more problems derive: the hidden part of the iceberg. These are problems that many of them must face, directly affecting their mental health.

This is the case of several people that we know, who, after waiting a long time and developing their resilience in the process, manage to travel to the peninsula, obtain their residence permit and start working. After fulfilling their objective, everything seems to begin to improve, and that is when the mind relaxes, adapts to a less hostile reality, and mental health problems begin to develop and become tangible, caused by the adjustments that their brains had to make to adapt to a reality so painful that it became unbearable.

The defence mechanisms that these people developed in a moment of trauma, gradually dissolve when in more tranquil environments (although discrimination and racism are still present in their day-to-day lives).

For all these reasons, it is necessary to give greater visibility to migrants’ mental health struggles. It is important to recognise that these people, throughout their transit process to the Peninsula, have developed issues and disorders that have their own specific characteristics. For the most part, they arise as a result of the uncertainty they experience during the long administrative wait until they are regularized, in the best of cases. Also, on numerous occasions, the expectations they have and the reality they encounter end up initiating or reinforcing consumption problems.

It is necessary to generate more spaces and facilitate greater access to treatment and follow-ups for these people. Including greater institutional training, from an approach that recognises their problems, as their own.


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