Before relocating, most expats do not worry about their mental health, but research shows adjusting to life as an expat can be difficult for some. This is not surprising. As you can imagine, many people who decide to live abroad are usually open to new challenges, adventure, and risk-taking. As a result, they are thinking of planning ahead or preparing for potential mental health issues.
According to data collected by aetna international (An American health insurance company), just 6% of expats are concerned about their mental health before moving abroad. Yet in an analysis of health care claims between 2014 and 2016, the data showed a large increase (33%) in mental health claims. The highest in Europe, followed by the Middle East and Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia.
Depression – the greatest risk for expats
Depression was the most prevalent condition in the aetna data, followed by anxiety, with women being the most likely to seek treatment.
The good news is depression is highly treatable. Moreover, while antidepressant medication is necessary for some, it is not a required course of treatment for all. For many, therapy is enough to bring about real healing and change.
The underlying issues for expats
There are many issues expats face that could have a significant impact on their mental health. They are required to adjust to a new environment, culture, and language without the supportive networks they left behind. Mental health has become a growing issue for expats as there are more and more opportunities to work and live abroad. Many people are taking the plunge, and then finding that adjustment to life abroad is more difficult than they thought.
Mental Health Experts are suggesting that it may be helpful to prepare before you go. Preparation includes establishing a support system and learning about mental health in advance. Learn about the signs of depression and anxiety. Understand that if you are finding adjustment difficult, help is available. There is no need to suffer from loneliness, feelings of isolation or anxiety while living abroad.
How therapy can help
Depression and anxiety are treatable and preventable when we have support. When we have the opportunity to learn and implement coping strategies and self-care. Human connection is also immensely beneficial to bring our emotions back into balance and keep them there. A therapist can offer understanding, connection and guidance concerning how to achieve balance and healing.
We live in a time where technology offers us access to each other no matter where we are in the world. With therapy, you can reach out and make a connection to a therapist from home, one who understands where you are coming from and the challenges you are facing.
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