Roya Yoosefi was born and raised in Iran and immigrated to Australia in 2012 with her husband while she was pregnant. (Brave or what?!)
“It was like I was bungee jumping… it was a journey to settle in and become Australia, which I’m proud of, but it was a hard journey.”
People like Roya, coming from different countries have different cultures. Which sounds obvious, but those of us who have lived in Australia all our lives underestimate the effects of culture shock.
“We leave our country, leave our friends, we’re here alone, there is no one to knock at the door or say hi. It’s hard to find a community and we’ve lost our of sense of belonging. Which is why we face mental health issues. It’s serious.”
Roya recalled the Stigma in Iran, how no one talks about mental health, not about how depressed they are or what they’re struggling with. Apparently it’s common in Iran to believe it makes you resilient to stay silent – a dangerous misconception.
Roya faced and lived that, so she decided to seek help. Once she moved here she decided to undertake occupational therapy studies at Curtin University. There were services readily available at uni but after meeting with a counsellor she realised they were unaware of her culture.
“My first interaction with a counsellor was very nice, I appreciated her support but she thought I was living in an abusive relationship – which I was not! My husband was trying to support me but we were both living with culture shock, we were living a hard life.”
She realised she needed to look at other options, which is when she found the Richmond Wellbeing Multicultural Mental Health Service.
Roya decided to become an Occupational Therapist so that she could help people who were living the life she lived. She has realised there is a problem with lack of information in our community. There are lots of services available, but Roya (like many people) was unaware of them. “When you’re feeling anxiety, it’s even harder, you’re confused, you don’t know where to go.”
If you know someone who is new to Australia, one of the most helpful things you can do is share information. We are comfortable sharing the latest fashion or sandwich joint, but it’s important to share this community information and talk about it.
Listen to Roya’s story below:
If you or someone you know needs help talk to Richmond Wellbeing, your GP or health professional, for a 24/7 crisis service call Lifeline on 13 11 14.