Coping With COVID-19 Anxiety as an Immigrant

COVID-19 struggles are not exclusive to any group or individual, this is a virus that affects everyone regardless of race, gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The same extends out to the anxiousness and mentally draining emotions that this pandemic has brought out amongst our most vulnerable groups, specifically immigrants and DACA students.

With pauses on immigration cases, fear of deportation, job loss, stay-at-home orders, presidential changes made to DACA, and lack of knowledge about the COVID-19 virus, anxiety and depression are bound to manifest. Not to mention those who are currently working are also putting themselves at additional risk of contracting the virus due to cramped working environments and lack of social distancing measures. This begs the question as to how these groups are handling it all in the midst of our new normal. Unfortunately, in most cases due to the fear of deportation and family separation most immigrant or undocumented individuals are less likely to seek help in this trying time.

For many immigrants, just the presence of a mental health issue is not recognized to be a valid problem as mental health disorders are still stigmatized or considered to be taboo subjects in many cultures. In the case that a mental disturbance is present or sensed, most individuals will turn to holistic medicine practices such as ones that are spirituality or community-based.

However, in these desperate times of isolation and uncertainty, even those techniques may be out of reach. This begs the question, how do I get help without putting myself at risk of deportation? As previously mentioned, most immigrants do not have access to health insurance or are less inclined to inquire about health resources; however, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) anyone seeking COVID-19 related treatment and testing should not under any circumstances have any effect on their immigration status. It is also violating HIPAA guidelines if a physician or medical facility releases your immigration status without your consent. Meaning, that in terms of treatment and medical services, there is one less obstacle to encounter.

When it comes down to the actual treatment, there are many local non-profits and low-cost clinics that can negotiate payment if insurance is not available. Should confidentiality be an inhibitor of seeking help, reach out to members in your community and those who are close to you if they have any recommendations. In addition to receiving services and inquiring about resources, staying connected with your friends, family, and loved ones is crucial during this transition as having a strong support system promotes positivity and motivation.

It is important to remember that while it may be intimidating at first, seeking help will provide emotional and physical health benefits that will lead to living a happier and healthier life. This is not a battle that has to be fought alone, nor is it one that is shameful if help is being actively sought out and exercised. Taking care of and strengthening one’s mental health holds just as much importance as physical health, the two go hand in hand with one another in terms of affecting each other’s performance. There is help and care out there, do not let fear keep you from doing what is best for yourself and your family. You are not alone.