Lai is 40 years old and he is from Deraa, Syria. He lives in the north of Jordan with his wife and 4 children.

Lai had to flee his country and leave everything behind. He moved his family to Jordan in 2013 and had to build a whole new life from scratch. In a patriarchal society where men are seen as the sole providers for their families, a huge burden fell on his shoulders.

Back in Syria, he had a “happy stable life”, he says. He owned a home and took care of a cattle of goats and sheep, making enough money to lead a decent life. After moving to Jordan, they found themselves with nothing and no money to start over. The uncertainty of the future and the stress of the situation became too much for a man responsible for a family of 6. “Everything is on me. I have to work and run around, and provide for 6 people. I am responsible for them and everything falls on me, the expenses, the livelihoods... a lot of things that are expected of me, house rent, schools.. all of this.”

I used to feel a lot of pressure psychologically and I couldn’t even talk about it at home.

Lai found himself having intense episodes of anxiety and started internalising all his feelings. There is quite the stigma surrounding mental health in Jordan, which is usually swept under the carpet. Men are even less likely to talk about their issues and would not even share the burden with their spouse.

Things started to get better for him since when made the decision to seek professional help. He no longer feels isolated and alone and can open up about his struggles more freely.

© European Union 2020 / Johanna de Tessières

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