Mental Health Growing Issue For Expats

Mental health is a growing issue for expat workers and their employers, as well as those relocating independently, according to a research study.

To ensure expats have the support they need when relocating or working away from their home country, health benefits provider Aetna International is calling for businesses and individuals to take more pre-emptive action to combat the problem.

A survey of 5,000 Aetna International members in 2016 revealed that just 6% of expats are concerned about mental health issues before relocating. A mind-set open to risk and challenges means that few feel the need or want to take steps to manage any potential issues in advance.

Yet according to the latest claims data from Aetna International, mental health is a growing issue for expats across the globe. In the analysis between 2014-2016, mental health claims prevalence in Europe showed the greatest increase (33%), followed by the Middle East and Africa, the Americas and Southeast Asia.  Depression emerged as the most prevalent condition, followed by anxiety, and women between the ages of 30 and 49 were the most likely to seek treatment.

Dr. Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, said: “Part of the reason expats are more susceptible to mental health issues is the absence of the family and friends network they relied on for support back home.

“We believe that employers should be taking a more preventive approach, introducing solutions such as employee assistance programmes. At best, these not only tackle mental health concerns when they arise, but encourage broader employee wellness to address issues before they escalate. Similarly, expats relocating independently should also consider preparing for the challenges they may face and seeking support before and during their move. Increasing knowledge around mental health issues and the support available can change attitudes towards those with mental health, and the behaviour of those coping with issues.”