Aleteia

The doctor who is tending to the suffering of migrants in New York

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The situation migrants face is often not an easy one. Most of the time, they find themselves struggling with a difficult present and an uncertain future.

Migrating is a complex process that often takes a toll on mental health. “Emotional pain is as strong, or perhaps even stronger, than physical pain,” explains Dr. Fernando Taveras, a physician working in in New York City.

Through Somos, an organization serving people with limited economic resources in New York, he serves migrants struggling with depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Dr. Taveras acknowledges mental illness “is very stigmatizing” and that it is difficult for many migrants to talk freely and openly about this kind of suffering. This silence hinders treatment: “These patients suffer from low esteem, and are sometimes simply unable to tackle their everyday lives normally,” he explains.

Maintaining a healthy contact with one’s roots and identity when depressed is helpful. Also, Dr. Taveras affirms “spirituality helps to maintain hope.” In fact, being hopeful, for her patients, is key to overcome depression.

This psychiatrist serves many migrants of Hispanic origins. He knows their culture and the faith that is an integral part of their heritage. Since he comes from a Dominican family himself, Dr. Taveras understands both the culture in which his patients were born and that in which they find themselves now. His job as a doctor more of a calling, and goes beyond what might be considered the strictly medical. Migrants who come to his office through Somos do appreciate his work, and his human approach to it.

This is how that “drive” that he says he finds in people who decide to start a new life in another country, gets back on track. This is how his patients them move forward, with the help of their families and the necessary, proper medical care.