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Relocating after trauma and difficult life events

Moving to a safe country can bring relief, reassurance and hope, but it can also be stressful and difficult, particularly when the move has been sudden and unplanned.

There may be a lot of things that you might still feel uncertain about and it can take time to get used to a new country, new neighbourhood, new school and, for some young people, a new language too. Here you can find some ideas for ways you can cope with these changes yourself, and the support that is available.

Experiencing difficult life events

Trauma is a way of describing an event which was frightening, threatening, or upsetting, and which makes you feel unable to cope or as though your thoughts, feelings and behaviour is out of your control.

These might be events that happen to you (such as someone causing you harm), events you witness (such as seeing destruction in your neighbourhood) or events that happen to someone you care about (such as the tragic death of a family member). We all react differently to traumatic events.

Some of the things we might experience are:

  • Regular thoughts or memories about what has happened
  • Feeling as though you are reliving past events (these are known as ‘flashbacks’)
  • Feeling disconnected or withdrawing from people around you
  • Avoiding things which remind you of what has happened or keeping busy to avoid thinking about things
  • Mood changes, such as feeling very angry or easily distressed
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Not feeling hungry and eating less
  • Physical health problems, such as difficulties with digestion or headaches

It is important to remember that it is normal to experience some difficulties following a stressful or traumatic life event- your body and brain needs to time to make sense of what has happened to you and to find ways of coping and building up strength.

For some young people, however, these experiences become so over-whelming that they feel they can’t cope. Sometimes this can lead people to hurt themselves or attempt to cope by using substances such as drugs or alcohol– even though this might feel like it is offering relief, these strategies end up adding to your problems rather than being helpful. These are signs that you need more support.

It can sometimes feel hard to talk about these problems with other people, especially when they are also going through a difficult time but sharing difficulties with people who you trust is one of the most important things you can do when you are struggling.

Mental health services and community support organisations are there to listen and help you understand your feelings, and take steps to feel more in control of your thoughts and emotions. You can find this support online, by texting on your phone, by asking for support in your school or by reaching out for specialist mental health support. These are free services which you do not need to pay for, and you can ask for an interpreter to support you at your appointment if you need.

Take a look at our suggestions for taking care of yourself after a difficult life event.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

Cross Hatch

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Find out what services are available to you in your area. Remember your school nurse is always there to give you confidential help and support.

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