Living abroad: how can you assess your mental health?
Mental health has been in the global spotlight in 2021, from attempts to understand the wider impact of the pandemic to sporting superstars withdrawing from prestigious competitions.
Competing as an elite athlete may seem far removed from your everyday working life. But the increasing willingness of many athletes, celebrities, and even royalty to talk openly about their personal mental health challenges has wider societal implications.
After moving abroad, it can be difficult to deal simultaneously with an unfamiliar culture, different ways of doing things at work, and a new language. If you moved shortly before or even during the pandemic, things may have been even more challenging for you; you may have been working mainly from home with few chances to meet colleagues, and feeling the distance to family in your home country more than ever.
If you feel concerned about your mental health while living abroad or during an overseas assignment, what should you do? The Local has partnered with AXA – Global Healthcare to offer some guidance for individuals and examine why employers have a crucial role to play.
Making mental health a bigger priority
Depression affects more than 300 million people globally, with more than 260 million living with anxiety disorders2, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The cost to the global economy is around US$1 trillion each year. Furthermore, WHO says that mental health problems can “seriously exacerbate” physical illness. Despite the scale of the problem, countries spend less than two percent of their national health budgets on mental health on average, says WHO.
But are attitudes changing and will mental health eventually be given equal billing with physical health? The reasons for companies to make the mental health of their employees a top priority keep growing.
Steps to take if you’re feeling low
Opening up about your mental health can be uncomfortable. If you’re feeling low, you may feel you just need to somehow carry on regardless. But it’s important to know that early intervention has proven more effective than trying to continue as feelings of stress or anxiety build up.
So, what should you do if you want to get a realistic assessment of your mental wellbeing? Rather than waiting for a crisis, you can turn to online tools, such as AXA’s LowMoodQuiz and AnxietyQuiz, to honestly assess your state of mind. Such tools are intended to help you as you deal with everyday stresses and strains, not only when a major event occurs.
A young man crying in his workplace. Photo: Getty Images
What if you know you’re struggling and feel the time has come to seek help? Here are three different ways you could start a meaningful conversation with your manager, according to AXA – Global Healthcare:
- Be proactive – look for opportunities to regularly check-in with your manager, whether through digital communications or telephone. Could you set aside 30 minutes at the start and end of each week to reflect on your achievements together and discuss any challenges?
- Use a mood scale – actively and regularly reflecting on your mood can help you recognise and flag times when you might need support from your manager. Making use of online tools like the quizzes above could help you.
- Ask questions – encourage your manager to share details about the support available to help you maintain good mental health. Fearful of asking for help? You shouldn’t be. Do you have the option, for example, to speak confidentially to a trained professional, whether face-to-face or by phone or video chat?
Your employer’s role
AXA suggests managers can look out for signs that an employee could be struggling with their mental health. If you have a benefits package, your employer or manager could also share details of the support available through that, such as confidential ‘virtual therapy’ by phone or video call. As a global leader in health insurance, AXA has multiple levels of health cover to fit your needs, giving you access to local healthcare professionals and facilities.
If you’re a member with a global healthcare plan, you can use AXA’s Virtual Doctor service³ to confidentially discuss anything you like. If it’s mental health support you need, they’ll refer you to the Mind Health service, to speak to a fully qualified psychologist.
1. The service provides you with up to 6 sessions with a psychologist, per mind health concern, per policy year. Available with a healthcare plan from AXA – Global Healthcare.
2. Research commissioned by AXA found that anxiety and depression were among the top health and wellbeing concerns for expats.
3. The Virtual Doctor and Mind Health services are provided by Advance Medical (a Teladoc Health company).
This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and presented by AXA.
AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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