“Think about this situation: a pandemic, being far away from your family in a place where you cannot express yourself, and consequently left without friends. You have been surviving by working a precarious job, where a huge percent of your monthly payment goes toward bills. You’re not sure if at the end of the month you’re going to have enough money to pay your rent or if you could even continue working.”
Taking psychosocial distress into account is an essential task of MigraCode Barcelona, as many of the students have faced hardships in their past and/or in their current lives. A recent but fundamental implementation to the MigraCode program is psychological support, offered by qualified and professional volunteers.
What started off as support provided by our internal social worker, MigraCode quickly realized that students needed more tailored support that would help them in aspects beyond what our social worker could assist them with. It was at that moment that a therapist from Brazil, Luciana, volunteered to start working with our students from a psychological support perspective. Through her and MigraCode’s network, more professionals who were eager to make a social impact began working with MigraCode as volunteer therapists.
One of them, Silvia, who joined in October of 2020, explains that she started in the team after hearing about the program through her work as senior tech recruiter. Having studied Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Psychology, she had always been fascinated by the idea of understanding people, how they think, how they feel, what is troubling them, and how to guide them to find the best resources and approaches to feel better with themselves and the world.
Today, MigraCode has five therapists actively volunteering with the organization and helping at least two students each on a weekly basis. All therapists speak Spanish and English, some even Portuguese, so any student from MigraCode can make use of this support.
Students have perceived the support highly positively, as one student tells us that the psychological support provided by MigraCode helped him to keep going and face my problems in a better way. “I’ve learned how important it is to acknowledge my feelings, have emotional intelligence in difficult situations, and not let things that are out of my control get me down.” Another student, who had all hopes on a job shattered by the Covid19 pandemic, mentioned that even though he was going through a rough time, “MigraCode was there to help by providing me with psychological support that helped me get through my situation.”
The volunteer therapists are involved for various reasons. Alicia, one of our volunteers, explains that for her, helping other people with their journey is a beautiful thing to do. “I helped with socialization problems, adapting to the new culture, and also getting to know oneself in a new country. I have lived in many countries myself and I can relate to some issues, but in the majority of cases the background is much worse and delicate, this makes me have so much respect and admiration for all of the students of MigraCode,” Alicia says.
Alex, another therapist of the team, mentions that sharing the same vision in the team is an important aspect for him to be able to remove the mental barriers and blocks that students face; those that we all experience in our paths to change. Their high motivation and multicultural background make the job fascinating and inspiring,” according to Alex.
The main aim of this additional support is to offer an appropriate approach to the troubles correlated with the process of the precariousness of socially vulnerable people. Also, not only do our therapists provide a safe space for our students to open up and face the situations that are bothering them, they also offer students access to coping mechanisms that could promote their success in the MigraCode course and the job search. After all, understanding why some students succeed in their studies while others are facing setbacks is an important issue for MigraCode and the instructors who teach them.
To conclude, the mental health care team is providing an accurate solution to support students with the barriers they face in their lives, while also improving the results of their MigraCode course. Like all other support systems within MigraCode, volunteers are at the core of this amazing effort and contribute to the challenging journey of our students.