Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Mental health and living abroad: New data reveals the most common pitfalls

Studying or working abroad is a fantastic experience for many, offering new experiences and perspectives. However, it can also provide significant challenges, especially with regards to wellbeing and mental health.

Many people experience significant challenges to their general wellbeing and mental health when moving to – and living in – another country. This can take many forms, such as:

  • Difficulty accessing medication, particularly medication prescribed in the previous country of residence.
  • Not being able to navigate the local health system to book an appointment.
  • Not being able to find the right ingredients for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Difficulties faced

Having moved to Berlin from Saudi Arabia to study and work in HR, Hanan Asgar was excited about the opportunities Germany offered. As she says: “I wanted freedom, respect, and equality for myself and my generation.”

However, the combination of being completely new in a foreign country, together with an unfortunate incident in her first few days in her new homeland – about which Hanan had no one to speak to – meant that Hanan began to feel isolated and anxious.

She tells us: “My anxiety grew and I actually ended up locking myself in my dorm room and questioning my choice of moving to Germany. But after some reflection, I realized that it was me who was missing out on the lectures I was avoiding. So I took the courage to step out again and face what was to come.”

Hanan subsequently underwent treatment for anxiety and depression with a therapist and has now been living happily in Berlin for the past six years.

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