By Mansour Arughi
A young asylum seeker who left Afghanistan in search of a better life – and spent near four years in detention on Christmas Island – has described his ordeal as “the worst time of my life”.
Electrical power engineering student Mohammad Nazari, who has lived in Perth on a temporary visa since 2015, is still haunted by the mental scars of spending 44 months in detention and the turmoil he left in his home country.
The 29-year-old Murdoch University student says he came close to ending his life when he was imprisoned on Christmas Island after attempting to arriving in Australia by boat.
He told The Bounce: “I still remember the violence and brutality in my country, which is affecting my health today.
“Huge unemployment, lack of safety and future uncertainty made me leave the country for a better place where I can find peace.”
Mr Nazari travelled to Pakistan, then Dubai and finally Indonesia where he met smugglers who promised to bring him to Australia. The boat was intercepted by the Australian Navy.
“Being away from dear loved ones for a long time, fear of deportation and missing the future opportunities turned me to a depressed and a hopeless guy,” Mr Nazari said.
“I left everything behind to get to a safe and peaceful environment, but I did not expect it to be like that. If I knew that the journey would end like this, I might have chosen different place.”
Psychologist Rosie Louis, who has worked with refugees since 2009, said: “The psychological impacts on asylum-seekers become part of their daily life.
“Many asylum seekers who were allowed to live in the country suffer from depression, stress and anxiety.
“Asylum seekers are experiencing the psychological effects of trauma which can cause fear, sadness, guilt and anger.
“We have to give them the protection they need in order to prevent them from isolation from the society.”
According to the 2013 National Mental Health Commission’s Spotlight Report , the rate of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder were four times higher among refugees in Australia.
In July 2015 there were 188 incidents of self-harm at Nauru and 55 at Papua New Guinea and Manus Island, which had been originated from depression and anxiety. Mr Nazari says medication helps him deal with his anxiety and depression.