Lately, the NHS and the mental health services have come
under great scrutiny. There are claims that mental health care is severely underfunded
yet it is something that expats may benefit from. There are a growing number of
counsellors and therapists all over the world, who specialise in supporting
expats and their mental well-being.
There is a common misconception that expats have a glamorous
life. They are living abroad in an exotic country, mixing with the locals and
immersing in new cultural experiences with a better salary and chances of promotion.
However, all these changes can be chaotic and very new.
In fact, an expat’s life is turned on its head. Even
everyday routines are drastically altered. The quality of living may be
different and certainly, the quality of medical care and hospitals can be so
unlike that of which you were used to. This is particularly true if you are
moving away from West.
Mental health is an arbitrary term and unfortunately one
that has negative connotations. However, mental well-being, whether at home or
abroad, is of importance, but is something that is often not included under the
country’s public healthcare system.
It is not uncommon to feel very out of your comfort zone and
lonely when you first move abroad. You are in a new environment and quite
often, established relationships come under pressure and building new ones can
be a daunting task. There may be a language barrier, the lack of familiar faces
and a fear to trust. All form of security is left behind at home. All these
struggles can lead to the likes of sadness and fear and even depression. They
are unavoidable with life troubles, especially when you are cut off from the
established support system built up by friends and family back home.
There is an innate need for social connection and friendship
among all human beings. Some are naturally gifted with talking to strangers and
are quick to break down barriers whilst others are shyer and struggle to make a
deeper connection. A stark cultural
difference and unusual norms and customs can make the task even harder. In
fact, it is not uncommon for international relationships to have a hit and miss
element to them. If you are moving with kids, the situation becomes more
Some expat medical insurance policies will include mental
health care so research is key. A simple counselling session can help with
these added stresses that are piling up on top of work and home pressure. It
offers an opportunity to unburden your worries and actually be listened to by
someone who understands you and your struggles. At the end of it, a solution as
a means of moving forward can be worked out.