Mental Health Around the World

  • There are now over 66.2 million expats worldwide, this is set to reach 87.5 million by 2021.
  • 300 million people suffer from depression globally.
  • 260 million suffer from anxiety disorders worldwide.
  • The number of mental health workers per 100,000 persons ranges from less than 1 in low-income countries to over 50 in high-income countries.

Top Expat Stressors

Expats are 2.5 times more likely to experience anxiety/ depression than domestic workers. Why is this?

  • 52% miss their personal support network.
  • 40% worry about their future finances.
  • 26% struggle making new friends.
  • 26% struggle with the language barrier.
  • 22% suffer from culture shock.
  • 15% say their loved ones are unhappy with the move.

(Source: Aetna International)

Maintaining Good Mental Health Abroad

Don’t Overwork Yourself
    • Expats work an average of 13.4 more hours than people doing similar jobs at home.
    • Prevent burn-out by switching off the “24-7 business mentality.”
    • Don’t bring your work phone home.
    • Avoid checking your email on weekends.
    • Instead, use your free time to socialise and to do healthy activities.
    Make Friends
    • Working abroad can be isolating, so be sure to dedicate time to making friends.
    • Don’t shy away work events and network groups.
    • Try out apps such as MeetUp to connect with new people.
    Phone Home
    • Take the lead on communicating with home.
    • Schedule regular one-to-one interactions with your loved ones.

    General Mental Health Tips

    • Limit alcohol consumption.
    • Aim for 8 hours sleep every night.
    • Take care of your body – exercise & eat well.
    • Learn how to deal with stress.
    • Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

    Preparing to Move Abroad

    Just 6% of expats are concerned about mental health before relocating.
    Know Before You Go!


    Research the following to ease the relocation process:

    • Ways to make friends.
    • Work & social culture.
    • Ways to stay in contact with home.
    • Potential stress outlets.
    Know Yourself
    • Check in with yourself and know your limits.
    • Keep a journal to help record and recognise your stressors.
    • Learn to recognise the warning signs of stress, anxiety and depression.
    Home Comforts
    • Keep up routines that make you feel stable.
    • Pack a few familiar items from home to help you relax after a challenging day.

    Finding Support Services Abroad

    E-counselling Services

    These allow you to connect with specialists in your home country via video-chat. You will need to ensure that the counsellor is licensed. Check the service’s privacy policies.

    Face-to-face Counselling

    Research online using Google and the International Therapists’ Directory. When searching for a counsellor abroad, try the following for referrals:

    • Your embassy
    • Your work/ HR Department
    • Other expatriates (particularly medical professionals)

    Video produced by Hansen & Company.

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