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International Healthcare News: Mentally ill people 'need support'

Expatriate medical insurance policyholders with serious mental illnesses may require professional help and support to improve their quality of life.

Spokesman for mental health charity SANE Richard Colwitt noted that a good diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can assist these individuals, but such activities can often be difficult for a person with depression.

"Medication or talking therapies", as well as support, can help them to be able to undertake these tasks, which are "precisely the things that those with mental health problems find most difficult doing", he continued.

Studies into this area should have the same "sense of urgency" and funding opportunities as those given to cancer research, the expert argued.

Mr Colwitt stated that many individuals, such as those with particularly common conditions including anxiety and depression, fail to seek help.

He urged these sufferers to communicate with a doctor or someone close to them "at the very least" in order to ensure their problem does not escalate.

The current global financial crisis could cause a spike in the number of people with mental health problems, as stressors such as difficulties paying the bills or losing a job can "have a serious impact" on an individual's mind.

Sufferers with existing problems are contacting charities and helplines more often as they lose benefits or become unemployed, whereas others "are getting in touch with us for the first time" because their circumstances have changed and it has made them worry about their mental fitness, the expert pointed out.

Mr Colwitt declared that "early intervention, such as family therapy", can support people "before problems become entrenched".

Every year, 164.8 million people in the EU, or 38.2 per cent of the population, suffer from some kind of mental disorder, a study from the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology found.

This indicates that it is the largest health challenge for the continent in the 21st century, with young people affected just as frequently as the elderly.

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