Mental Health - Instahelp
10 minutes read

Help for Helpers – Instahelp x VKB

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We are here for you – just as you are here for those seeking protection

The Konzern Versicherungskammer with its approximately 7000 employees is deeply affected by the warlike events in Ukraine. They show in a painful way that basic democratic rights and sovereign coexistence cannot be taken for granted, that even peace throughout Europe is in danger. Our thoughts are with the victims and the countless people who are suffering from the current conflict in Eastern Europe.

The current time presents us all with a great mental challenge. That is why we support helpers who have taken in refugees with an online psychological service in cooperation with Instahelp::

  • a) Individual Online Counselling with Psychologists
    In addition, you have the possibility to contact professionally trained psychologists online and anonymously in order to find an individual solution. With the Code „WIRHELFEN“ you can book up to five free units for a 50-minute psychological online counselling session here.
    More Info about the free counselling >>
  • c) Helpful Tips and Videos
    Here you will find practical tips and videos on how to strengthen your mental health. Among other things, we strengthen you in recognising and understanding trauma, living together interculturally and dealing with injustice better – and what you can do when everything becomes too much.
    See our Tipps & Videos >>

 
Further information on the commitment of the Versicherungskammer Group can be found here.

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a) 1:1 counselling with psychologists

Instahelp and VKB first offer 1:1 counselling with psychologists. This offer is not only aimed at VKB’s insurance clients, but at everyone who needs support in caring for refugees.

Why is 1:1 counselling useful?

Those affected quickly run the risk of being overwhelmed by the situation. Taking care of refugees is a 24/7 job: you take care of their problems, go to the authorities and take care of the refugees (food, accommodation, etc.). The concerns of refugees come into focus and you run the risk of forgetting one very important person: yourself!

This overload can quickly affect your mental wellbeing. Stress symptoms such as irritability, shortness of breath, insomnia or stomach complaints manifest themselves. This is precisely why psychological 1:1 counselling is recommended, in order to be able to express pent-up emotions in a protected space and to have experts accompany you part of the way. With your psychologist, you can develop strategies to clarify all the questions that are important to you.

The Versicherungskammer Group and its insurance companies support helpers who have taken in refugees with up to five free sessions of 50-minute online psychological counselling to help them cope better with the current mental challenges.

Counselling is available online as video/audio call or text chat and is completely anonymous (no personal data will be shared with the Konzern Versicherungskammer). To use the service, click on “start free counselling“. The free counselling will be activated for you automatically.

 
Start free counselling >>



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b) Help for self-help: Information and practical tips to strengthen your mental health

The digital Content is primarily intended to address those people who, in their current state of overwhelm, are taking a first step in the direction of mental hygiene and self-care.

 
 

 

1. Recognising and understanding trauma – tips for dealing with people with post-traumatic stress disorder

Many refugees experience traumatic situations during their flight. This trauma has a considerable impact on the lives of refugees and continues to determine them for a very long time. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop as a follow-up reaction to one or more traumatic events. This manifests itself through flashbacks (repetitive and unwanted thoughts), physical and psychological symptoms.

In the care of traumatised people, there are approaches to how you can provide support. For traumatised people, the primary goal is to regain a certain sense of security.Through your care, you contribute significantly to this process. You can also help by calming them down and radiating stability. By consciously establishing a regular daily rhythm and physical activity (without overexertion), you can help refugees gain some stability and reassurance. As a final tip, you can talk to refugees about the trauma. After an acute traumatisation, it is important and healing to be able to talk about the experience. However, be careful not to bring up too many details. Professional psychological support is needed to properly deal with trauma.

2. The rock in the surf – How to take away refugees’ fear of crises and insecurities

Uncertainty is a central component of flight. “What will happen back home?” “How will my family fare?” “What awaits me in my place of refuge?” Such thoughts are not uncommon for refugees. This is how you take away refugees’ fear of crises and uncertainties:

  • Keep your word! Give refugees the feeling that they can fully rely on you.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of refugees! Pay attention to their needs and show understanding for them. Be gentle with them because they have been through a lot.
  • Community takes away fears! Embed the refugees in your social network so that they realise that they are not alone.
  • Be the rock in the surf! Build a bond with the refugees and give them support in a turbulent time.
  • Pay attention to your personal resources! In order to be able to be there for other people, you should first and foremost pay attention to your personal sources of strength.

3. Tips for intercultural coexistence

Refugees often travel huge distances to find a better and safer life. In doing so, they leave their cultural space and seek refuge in places that do not correspond to their own culture. Insecurities and prejudices can quickly lead to tensions on both sides. This is how you as a host can reduce tensions:

  • Fear of the unknown is normal, but it doesn’t have to be. When you get to know other cultures, you quickly realise that many prejudices are unfounded. Therefore, try to reduce negative prejudices.
  • Be open to new things. Get to know other cultures consciously and do not close yourself off from them. This will enrich your experience.
  • Communication is the key. Respectful and understanding interaction is the basis of every interpersonal interaction. Show respect, but also demand it.

To summarise:4. Those who are interculturally competent can interact successfully with people from a different cultural background. In concrete terms, this means behaving respectfully, showing understanding for the other culture and paying attention to both one’s verbal and non-verbal communication.

I can’t take it anymore! – What to do when everything becomes too much for you?

The flight is not only a drastic event for refugees, but also for you as a caregiver of refugees. Caring for refugees is a 24/7 job for you and can quickly push you to your limits. Therefore, it is important that you do not lose sight of yourself and consciously turn to your mental health. With these tips you can cope better with the refugee situation:

  • Weakness is nothing negative – it is human. Don’t let anyone tell you that showing emotions is frowned upon. On the one hand, you are working for something good, but on the other hand you are confronted with strokes of fate every day. So it is your right to show emotions.
  • Delimitation and ego time as lifesavers for mental health. Also, or especially in times of crisis, it is extremely important to allow yourself time out and to distance yourself. Do your favourite activities, relax and try to forget the fates for a moment.
  • There is also help for you. You don’t have to deal with anything on your own! The same support services that are available for refugees are also available for you. For example, you can work with psychologists to better cope with the stresses of caring for refugees.

5. Tips for dealing with injustice

Many refugees report injustices before and during their flight. They are driven from their homeland by wars or other crises and are usually treated very badly during the flight itself. Unfortunately, refugees are not always welcomed with open arms in their place of refuge. You can combat injustice with the following tips:

  • Set a good example. Behave as fairly as possible and expose injustices. Communication and addressing injustices are of great importance.
  • Classify injustices. Sometimes it is worth looking at the coin from both sides. Not behind every injustice is someone who is up to no good. Sometimes injustice is based on problems of understanding, false prejudices or ignorance.
  • Give free rein to your anger about injustice. First of all: Physical violence is never a solution! Neither is taking out your anger on uninvolved third parties. But it can be useful to write down negative emotions or express them in other appropriate ways. It is perfectly normal to react to injustice with anger or sadness, so do not hold back these emotions.

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1. Support in difficult situations – The inner team

In addition to the previously presented articles, Instahelp psychologist Katja Kunert has prepared videos. Click here to go directly to the playlist.

In the first video, she presents an exercise that can support you when you are faced with a difficult situation or problem and are looking for a solution. It is called the inner team. In the inner team model, our mental inner life is metaphorically described as a team of real or imaginary people. This team can help you make difficult decisions or overcome difficult situations by each person on the team contributing his or her ideas.

The exercise is particularly good to use when you feel confronted with problems and have the feeling that you are collapsing under the weight of these problems. It helps you to get back into the action level and become active.

You can see exactly how the exercise works in the following video:

2. Moments of calm in times of crisis – How to succeed!

In another video, Instahelp psychologist Katja Kunert helps you to find a moment of calm. As already mentioned, caring for refugees is a 24/7 job. You quickly run the risk of putting your own needs second. At the same time, personal moments of calm are immensely important.

We need moments of calm for our mental health. Our brain needs rest to reduce stress hormones. Especially in times of crisis, moments of calm help us not to lose our footing and to find ourselves for a short moment.

In the video on moments of calm, Katja Kunert tells you about a great exercise to create a moment of calm for you. This exercise is called “the inner garden” and in the following video she does the exercise together with you:

3. Recognise and avoid stress limits

Another video addresses personal stress limits and shows how to recognise them and how to make it so that you do not have to exceed them. You may think to yourself that you have to go beyond your limits because the refugees need your help. But if you permanently exceed your own limits in caring for your charges, you are not doing your mental health any good.

Here’s what you can do to avoid pushing your limits:

  • Knowing your own warning signals: What are your individual symptoms of stress?
  • Hand over tasks: Refer legal matters to legal counsellors and psychological problems to psychologists – you cannot take on all roles without overstepping your boundaries.
  • Take time outs: Conscious detachment is important to replenish your personal resources. For example, you can practise relaxation techniques such as meditation, exercise (go for a walk) or spend time with your loved ones. Anything that is good for your mental health is welcome.
  • Communicate openly: Make it very clear: This far and no further! Speak up when things get too much for you. Give emotions such as excessive demands, fear and insecurity their space and do not suppress them.

Learn more about your personal stress limits here:

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Updated on: 4. August 2022