Young people who have grown up undocumented can suffer from mental health problems. The sudden realisation you don’t have legal status and how this affects your life can cause many young people to feel worried and anxious. If you believe your mental wellbeing is being affected by your status here, talk to trusted friends and family.
There are also organisations and youth-groups that can help. For example, Let Us Learn and Brighter Futures are a group of young migrants on the pathway to citizenship. These groups can offer support and help your overcome the issues you may be facing.
If you would like further support you can contact:
- MIND: a mental health support charity www.mind.org.uk
- Mental Health Foundation: provides information and help for anyone with mental health problems and learning disabilities www.mentalhealth.org.uk
- Samaritans: confidential support for people experiencing distress or despair www.samaritans.org.uk
- Rethink Mental Illness: support and advice for people living with mental illness www.rethink.org
I came to the UK with my mum and little brother in 2005 at the age of 11. I was told we were coming to London on holiday but as time went by I understood and accepted that we were here to stay.
Growing up in the UK, I settled into school easily. I made friends and became a part of the crowd. However, I was aware that something was not right. When the opportunity for school trips came along I never spoke to my mum about it or showed her any letters relating to the issue. My mum always made sure to remind me not to tell my problems to anyone. As a result, I learned to bottle my emotions and became pretty good at it.
Although not having status was something that constantly lingered at the back of my mind I don’t think it registered with me that if my status remained unresolved, I would not be able to have the same opportunities as my friends. I was not able to apply to work and I had no ID card. Now, looking back I realise I was trying my very best to remain positive. The most painful thing at that time was not knowing if I would be able to share the experiences of my British-born peers.
My mum made attempts to resolve my status but we were given bad advice by many lawyers. After several years, my family finally found a suitable lawyer who talked us through the process and gave us accurate advice. During this time, I joined a group called Let Us Learn and I could speak to other young people with similar experiences. This helped me realise I was not alone.
I can now say that I have limited leave to remain after being in limbo for such a long time. I am about to start a new job and recently travelled out of the country for the first time. I feel a sense of independence. Although I feel liberated, as a migrant there are always hurdles to overcome. I hope to stay on this route to settled status and eventually apply for British citizenship to be recognised as a national of the country I love.