“Flee” is an animated movie made by filmmaker Jonas Rasmussen. The film takes the viewer into a vibrant deep-dive in the life experiences of Amin, an Afghan refugee who fled his war torn country to get to Europe.
There are, especially for a doctor in psychiatry, multiple events of great value regarding how the life of a refugee affects mental health and wellbeing. How past experiences can make you struggle to dance flawlessly in interpersonal relations in a world that is unknown to you. Loss of roots is perhaps undervalued for most people living in safe countries.
Firstly Amin says that a home is a permanent place. Throughout the movie his past memories of his childhood in Afghanistan, time spent with his family and friends are knocking on the door of his conscious mind. That is the first point; your childhood with both its happy and unfortunate moments will stay with you and shape you in many ways.
What is further interesting is the core-family strength; the emotional and practical need of each other, sacrificing your own wellbeing for that of your parents and siblings - even taking steps that are beneficial for your own future will be put at stake.
The process of separation from your known place and re-integration into a new society is clearly outlined in Flee. Re-integrational processes may be stagnated due to cultural differences, own value system and fear of lack of acceptance along with loneliness, language barriers and past traumas. Alongside the emotional luggage filled with strong emotions such as anger, sorrow and fear.
At the same time we witness that Amir´s sexual orientation, which he hid earlier, was indeed accepted by both his family and by people in his newly settled life in the West.
Furthermore there is no doubt in my mind that the short term and long term effects of traumatic events will affect mental health, the way a refugee looks at life and will cause limitations. For instance, Amir experienced humiliation during his flight; he saw how inhumane human traffickers are and how they take advantage of people in a dire situation.
The need to approach refugees with warmth and respect, and aim to provide stability cannot be emphasized enough. These first bricks will lay the foundation for how well newly arrived refugees will be dedicated, motivated and sincere in the integration process.
Lastly we should keep in mind that refugees are humans just like us with hope, dreams and a set of their own potentials and strengths.
If accepted, given proper opportunities and psychiatric help they will most likely become a resource. They are fully capable of learning new languages, and even if they do not master our language in the beginning, that does not make them any less worthy of respect than the rest of us.