Expats at greater risk of mental health issues

Expatriate mental health

Expatriates suffer with more mental health issues than non-expats, according a recent study.

According to a recent study, expatriates face a higher overall risk for mental health problems and substance abuse issues. This underlines the importance of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) and mental health support as the expatriate workforce expands.

The research, entitled The Mental Health Status of Expatriate Versus US Domestic Workers was conducted jointly between Chestnut Global Partners and The Truman Group. It found that 50% of expats studied were at high risk of problems such as anxiety and depression. This is 2.5 times higher than their US counterparts.

“Studies estimate that American expatriates have assignment failure rates as high as 40%, which often results from stress caused by cultural difference and demanding workloads,” said study co-author Dave Sharar, Ph.D, managing director of Chestnut Global Partners.

Expats and families need more mental health support

With the number of American expatriates rising again after the economic crisis, companies need to address this issue with comprehensive relocation support and EAPs for both workers and their families.

In 2011 the Global Relocation Trends Survey from Brookfield GRS, there was a 61% increase in expat assignments in 2011 following a decrease in 2010 due to economic pressures. The Chestnut Global Partners study also highlighted the role of family dynamics in relocation success. The top challenges being partner resistance (47%) and family adjustment (32%).

“Family members can be deeply affected by relocation, which makes it imperative to have readily accessible programmes and services to address their needs as well as those of the expat,” said study co-author Sean D. Truman, director of clinical services at The Truman Group.

The study found that:

  • Three times as many expatriates as US-based workers expressed feelings of being trapped or depressed.
  • Twice as many expats as US-based workers expressed feelings of anxiety or nervousness.

“There is an explicit need for programmes and services that are comprehensive in scope and sensitive to the personal, interpersonal, and professional dynamics that contribute to the overall well-being of expats and their family members,” added Sean Truman.

Bryony Ashcroft says:

I know! 50% is a lot, I was also surprised by the 40% failure rate of expat assignments. Perhaps something needs to be done regarding support programmes to properly prepare expats and their families.

Wow 50% of expats! That is crazy! Must be the missing of the family :/