Two in five expats feel as though their mental health has deteriorated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, new research from Axa has found.
A survey of 578 expats found that 39 per cent had seen their mental health deteriorate. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, nearly two-in-three – 62 per cent – would have described their general state of mind as good. But this fell to just 35 per cent during the pandemic.
Just 6 per cent said that their mental health had improved, and 28 per cent said that they have never faced a situation that had been worse for their mental wellbeing.
The research argues that Covid-19 has brought about a change in the attitudes of expats towards mental health, with 75 per cent of respondents saying that they have never used professional help to deal with mental health issues in the past, but 61 per cent saying the pandemic has made them reconsider the way they think about their mental wellbeing.
But 26 per cent said they would not know where to find professional help to improve their mental wellbeing and 47 per cent felt that they wouldn’t be able to pay for it. Only 7 per cent have used professional help to deal with a mental health issue during the pandemic.
Axa Global Healthcare global head of international healthcare Andy Edwards says: “Covid-19 has clearly had a very real impact on the mental health of the expats in Europe that were surveyed. Many will undoubtedly have experienced feelings of isolation and struggled to either return home or visit loved ones. Now, with winter coming and many regions across Europe tackling a second wave of infections, it’s vital that these individuals prioritise their mental health.
“While it’s certainly encouraging to see that expats are reconsidering their attitudes towards mental health, it’s clear that further encouragement is required for them to seek support. There have been huge improvements in connectivity and clinical pathways between primary care and mental health services either delivered by the state or as part of a health insurance plan. These improvements may play a significant role in identifying those people who have an underlying mental illness, but unaware, present only with physical symptoms.
“For those that are ready to seek help, this increased connectivity and advancement in virtual services that we’re seeing this year, improves accessibility and ensures that help is available for those that need it, wherever they are in the world.”