Only 6 Percent Expats Globally Are Concerned About Mental Health Issues

June 28, 20178:55 am391 views

While mental health issues cannot be ignored, a recent finding reported by Aetna International, a leader in global healthcare benefits revealed rise in mental health claims among expats. However, there seem to be a huge disconnect between the number of reported cases (growing) and the level of concern for mental health issues shown amongst expats (low).

Close to 20 percent rise in expat mental health claims in Southeast Asia from 2014 to 2016 suggests that mental health issues can no longer be ignored.  Absence of friend and family networks is a major contributing factor to this ubiquitous global issue.

According to the whitepaper titled Expatriate mental health: Breaking the silence and ending the stigmamental health is a growing issue for expats – workers and their employers, as well as those relocating independently. To ensure expats have the vital support they need when relocating or working away from their home country, the company is calling for businesses and individuals to take more pre-emptive action to combat the problem.

A survey of 5000 Aetna International members in 2016 revealed that just six percent of expats are concerned about mental health issues before relocating. The findings also suggest that since most expats have a mind-set open to risk and challenges, some of them may consequently be less likely to take steps to manage any potential issues in advance, not just for themselves, but their accompanying dependant family members as well.

Mr Derek Goldberg, Managing Director, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Aetna Inc., says, “There are many challenges that expats face which can result in debilitating mental health issues if ignored. Often, they have to adjust quickly to new and sometimes very different cultures, languages and work responsibilities, and without the usual social support networks back home. At Aetna, we are committed to building a healthier world for all. We hope that by raising awareness of mental health issues, we can encourage expats to seek the appropriate assistance when it’s needed.”

According to Aetna International member data between 2014-2016, mental health claims prevalence in Europe showed the greatest increase (33 percent), followed by the Middle East and Africa (28 percent), the Americas (26 percent) and then Southeast Asia (19 percent).

See: Inclusion on Mental Wellness Benefits to Drive Consistent Employee Performance

Depression emerged as the most prevalent condition (50 percent prevalence increase), followed by anxiety (28 percent prevalence increase), and women between the ages of 30 and 49 were the most likely to seek treatment.

Dr. Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, says: “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 which we currently have in all our Aetna Summit ℠plans. 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.”

“Our In Touch Care offering has been designed with this in mind. We offer one-to-one support to vulnerable members and provide ongoing support, ensuring that wherever they are in the world they have quick and easy access to the help they need. Since the launch of the service, we have seen a decrease in mental health claims costs per member, suggesting that our support may have reduced the frequency of their visits to mental health treatment providers.”

Also read: Working in Shifts Could be Detrimental to Employee Health: Study Proves

Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

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