The term ‘expat’ often conjures up images of luxury living, endless sightseeing and adventure, and in some instances, this may be the case. However, most people who relocate abroad with their company are ordinary people juggling work, family and leisure time, with the added challenge of doing so in a foreign country.

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Recognising the emotional as well as practical factors

More companies are now recognising that employee relocation must be approached from a wider perspective, in order to account and prepare for the impact of previously overlooked factors expats face, such as unfamiliar language, food, cultural norms and more. Without the standard network of support they would usually call on, and the effects of being so far away from family and friends, have been largely unrecognised until now.

Figures are increasing rapidly

Recent stats show that the number of mental health issues being reported by expats is rising alarmingly, up between 19 – 33% depending on location; and while women in their 30s and 40s account for half of those coming forward for help recently, the stresses of expat life are not confined to specific genders or age groups.

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Mental health conditions impact not only the expats personal and family life but their work life and company too,, with far reaching consequences which may even threaten both the individual’s career and lifestyle, and the company’s prosperity and future.
If nothing is put in place to solve this problem, or even better, to reduce the possibility of impaired mental health even becoming an issue, the consequences could include a failed posting, unnecessary distress, plus, perhaps, lost business

Positive actions

The major responsibility for facilitating change lies with the employers, and by implementing a few simple key policies, further problems of a similar nature could well be reduced dramatically, while also benefitting those who currently need support.

Ideas for the future include: supporting employees and their families learn the local language, and offering comprehensive in-country support services from a company such as, who can capably deal with everything from finding a good school for your children to safely moving your furniture and possessions.

This growing recognition of mental health issues amongst expats is a positive trend, as it creates a space for employers to initiate proactive measures which will benefit both themselves and their workforce.