Survey shows expats likely to experience mental health problems

Published:  17 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: Moving
According to a recent survey, mental health problems amongst expatriates are increasing, involving those relocating for their companies as well as independent relocators.

For many, becoming an expat is a dream well worth turning into reality. Moving to an exciting new location, taking on a challenging, financially rewarding job, pursuing the perfect retirement or even simply leaving a lifestyle that’s become tedious and unfulfilling - all are reasons for the present-day increase in those seeking a new life. However, few of those heading for the unknown consider the effect on their emotional stability of embracing the unfamiliar.

A recent survey has revealed as few as six per cent of relocators have concerns about their mental wellbeing before they make the move. The rest, presumably, board the plane without realising they are leaving everything familiar behind and heading into the unknown. The potential of the expat mindset seems to blank out the potential damage of risks and challenges, allowing new expats to ignore the need to manage possible issues in advance.
In the real world, mental health problems are a fast-growing issue within the worldwide expat community, often exacerbated by the loss of the supportive ‘friends and family’ network back home.

The survey revealed depression was the most common condition, with anxiety coming in a close second and with women more likely to seek help than their male equivalents. Experts feel employers should take more responsibility for new expat staff, perhaps by introducing employee assistance programmes and removing the stigma of mental health issues as well as promoting the concept of overall wellness.

Independently relocating expatriates should be encouraged to identify possible challenges in their new lives even before they leave the home country. Expat communities across the globe often aren’t what they seemed to be during a brief orientation visit, especially if the reason for relocating is retirement. It takes time to form solid relationships and find groups of the like-minded, with feelings of loneliness and lack of communication easily morphing into depression.
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