Mental health problems can occur from living overseas. Research indicates that expats are more likely to be depressed than people residing in their home country. Travel and socialising constraints due to COVID-19 caused a great deal of expats to feel solitary, anxious and depressed.
In this blog post, we are going to share with you what impacts expatriates’ mental health and why it is important to get the help if you are encountering mental health issues.
Common causes that lead to mental health matters in expats
- Separation from family and friends; lack of familiarity and support
- The need to develop a high level of self-sufficiency
- Challenges with the local language, culture and customs
- Depending on the country, anxiety and stress can be caused by exposure to poverty, violence, suffering, death and the risk of disease
Top of the list for many is being homesick. Even if you’re really looking forward to the excitement and novelty of living abroad, it’s inescapable that you’ll miss family and friends or simply just the everyday life that you were used to.
One thing that many expats do not consider is the isolation from the informal support networks provided by friends and acquaintances that comes from living abroad.
While the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a new light on virtual connectivity, nothing quite beats face time. Expats may also experience the fear that everyone at home will quickly forget you. Some choose not to share these fears with their usual confidants because they want them to think they’re new life is perfect and that they’ve made the right decision in moving.
It can be tough making new friends, especially if you have built up friendships over many years in your home country. Building friendships in a new country where the local language is not your native tongue can make it even harder to meet new people.
Stress and anxiety that arise from moving to a new country are common, and a desire to seek a cure for mental health issues can sometimes make the situation worse. Not knowing how to cope with loneliness or how to deal with homesickness can lead to serious problems.
How to get mentally healthy as an expat
A study suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
Sleep is really important for our physical and mental health. Sleep helps to regulate the chemicals in our brain that transmit information. These chemicals are important in managing our moods and emotions. If we don’t get enough sleep, we can start to feel depressed or anxious, especially if we don’t have the right work-life balance when we are working from home.
Engage in physical activities
Activity and exercise are essential in maintaining good mental health. Being active not only gives you a sense of achievement, but it boosts the chemicals in your brain that help put you in a good mood. Exercising can help eliminate low mood, anxiety, stress and feeling tired and lazy.
It is also linked to living a longer life. You don’t need to run a marathon or play 90 minutes of football; a short walk or some another gentle activity might do the trick.
Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs
Drinking and smoking aren’t things which we always associate with withdrawal symptoms, but they can cause some which impact on your mental health. When you’ve had a few drinks you can feel more depressed and anxious the next day, and it can be harder to concentrate.
Do activities you are happy with
If you like going for a walk, painting or a specific TV show, try to set aside time to enjoy yourself. If we don’t spend any time doing things we enjoy, we can become irritable and unhappy.
Develop a good eating habit
Eating well isn’t just important for our bodies, but it’s also important for our minds. Certain mineral deficiencies, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies, can give us a low mood.
Try to eat a balanced diet. If you find you’re a particularly stressed or anxious person, you should try limiting or cutting out caffeine as this can make you feel jittery and anxious.
Mental health services are available for expats in their host country
If you are suffering with expat mental health issues such as stress and anxiety while living or working overseas you may feel that it’s difficult to find the right help and support.
People may have trouble finding appropriate, quality help in small towns and cities, which, combined with their smaller size can make coping with loneliness harder. He also says that many people simply don’t know that there is support available in their host country.
There are three barriers, namely, the language, the culture and the mental state to overcome. Many people give up seeking help at the start, believing it is not available for foreigners or they won’t receive the treatment that would suit them.
But the truth is that many countries have mental health services available. Many major towns and cities offer counselling and mental health support, and treatment at these centres is often covered by international health insurance.
With awareness of mental health issues now more prevalent than ever before and the mounting pressures of everyday life, it’s becoming increasingly important for you to take care of your psychological well-being.
From making changes to our diets to carving out more time for self-care, many of us are now taking active steps in an effort to improve our overall health and wellbeing. Investment in mental healthcare is highly likely to add to average happiness.
If you would like to learn more how i-Brokers can help expatriates find the best places in the world to move abroad and settle into their new lives abroad by providing world-class international health insurance with mental health benefits, contact us at [email protected].