Homesickness, the great distance between loved ones… In Luxembourg, where foreigners account for more than 50% of resident employees, the Covid-19 epidemic is wreaking psychological havoc.

The psychological damage caused by the pandemic affects many age and population groups. Young people, of course, and especially students, are deprived of many distractions and some are confined to tiny university flats. The self-employed, artists, workers in the catering, events or performing arts sectors… the list is endless.

But there is one category of collateral victims of this epidemic more specific to a country like the Grand Duchy: Expatriates.

Of the 239,864 resident employees in Luxembourg, 121,463 are foreigners according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (STATEC), whether they are from the European Union or elsewhere. This means that more than half of the resident employees are living far from their families at a time when travelling is either outright impossible or extremely tedious and difficult to organise.

Catherine Verdier, a psychologist-therapist, founded the "Psyfamille" centre located on Route d'Arlon in Luxembourg City, and has recently seen a number of families who are suffering at this time. Verdier confirms that the strict travel restrictions which make it impossible to see loved ones are the biggest challenge for most of them. At Christmas in particular, a family holiday in many countries, many people suffered because they felt isolated from their parents or grandparents. There are children who cried in front of their screens with their grandparents on the other side on Christmas Day, Verdier explains.

Aida May comes from Mexico and now lives in Niederanven. Her last trip to her native country was in 2019. She and her daughter Katia are desperate not to be able to go back to their family. She explains that knowing that they could travel gave her and her daughter more energy. Now, she says, with this situation it is impossible.

Maggie, a US-American from Hawaii, is taking her time. Living in the Grand Duchy since 2012 and married to a Frenchman, Maggie is already happy to have family in France, her husband's family, while her mother lives in Honolulu. She states that "fortunately" they have her husband's family in Nantes, because for those who have absolutely no family in Europe, it is very easy, especially with the lack of social contacts, to feel isolated, and therefore a little more depressed.