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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stressed Out? New? Help's Coming

In an effort to organize what has been primarily a word-of-mouth network of services for expatriates, two separate groups are in the process of setting up resource centers.


"It would be a kind of clearing house," said Dr. Nick Riesland, the regional medical officer at the U.S. embassy in Moscow. "It will be a mental health registry and people will be able to call the American embassy's medical unit, the crisis hotline, the British embassy and other places to get a list of people in the community who can help."


Riesland belongs to a small group of volunteers calling themselves the Moscow mental health committee. By cataloging Moscow's expatriate psychologists, therapists and social workers -- both paid and volunteer -- the group hopes to formalize what has until now been a loose network.


The second fledgling resource center, being organized by a coalition of four groups serving expatriates in western Europe, is much broader in scope, both geographically and professionally. The project, called On the Move: Resources for a Global Community, is an effort to identify nonprofit and commercial firms providing services to expatriates.


Once collected, the information will be published in a booklet and kept in a computer database accessible through the Internet, said project manager Barbara Lau, an American living in Gar-misch-Partenkirchen, Germany. "The world is changing so quickly that before you go there and reinvent the wheel, why not find out information before you go," said Lau, citing Moscow as a place where rapid growth has made reliable, up-to-date information hard to obtain.


Data has already been collected for much of western Europe and now the project is seeking volunteers from among expatriate residents of eastern European and Asian cities to collect information in time for a planned launch of the database next year in Brussels.


"We are looking for people in Moscow to either give us referrals or form a volunteer research team," said Lau. "They would comb the city and say, Okay, here is a group that should be included in the database. We want to have the locals -- Russians and expats -- doing the research."


Lau said the database will be geared towards those expatriates who accompanied a spouse abroad for the sake of their partner's career. Such people are often left to cope with the more difficult issues of adjustment.


The stress foreigners experience with a move to Moscow is the topic set for a one-day seminar the Moscow mental health committee plans to stage this winter, when, Riesland said, expatriates are often beginning to feel the full impact of what they have done by moving to Moscow.


The seminar, to focus on how to cope with stress and depression, may draw on the people who have responded to the committee's appeal for mental health professionals in Moscow. To date, Riesland said, more than a dozen people have requested a listing in the registry, some volunteering and "some for more mercenary reasons."





Those interested in being included in the Moscow mental health registry may call the U.S. Embassy's medical unit at 956-4019. To volunteer for the On the Move project, contact Barbara Lau in Germany by calling 49-8821-57277 or e-mailing 100564.1163@compuserve.com.