The psychology of emigration

One of the first and most important aspects of moving to another country is the thoughts and mental processes which not only go into the decision making but also form the background against which we consider emigration in the first place.

If you are considering emigration, you are on the verge of a major life event that is characterized by stress, the feeling of loss and major change.

To be able to cope with this event you need social and psychological well-being, then you will be able to adapt and adjust successfully. It is therefore important to understand the social and psychological impact of emigration to prepare you and in doing so prevent possible pitfalls and challenges. “Leaving South Africa is definitely not the chicken run. It is, in fact, not for the fainthearted at all.” Anon, programme manager, Oakville, Canada

What are some of the reasons for emigrating and how does it impact on psychological well-being?

There are many reasons why one would choose to emigrate, such as the economy, politics, crime and violence or simply for better career and education opportunities. Each individual, and/or family has their own reasons for emigrating, which often influence their emotional well-being throughout the process of emigration and their adjustment in the new country.

The decision-making process involved in emigration should be a comprehensive one in which all parties affected should be involved. The reasons for migration should be realistic and sufficient as these reasons form the motivating factors that drive the process and provide peace of mind regarding the decision to emigrate.

The presence of psychological conditions such as Major Depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress disorder as well as relationship difficulties could influence the decision to emigrate. The individual who has been diagnosed with any psychological condition should therefore ensure that the emotional, mood, physiological, thought and behavior changes associated with the specific condition is not affecting their decision-making process.
If you do something for the wrong reasons or you only in part agree with the reasons it will cause inner conflict and when you are at war with yourself – your psychological well-being will suffer. You need to explore your reasons from the beginning and make a sound decision.

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