Traveling or studying overseas is not a cure for health conditions such as depression or attention deficit disorder. Sometimes going abroad may in fact amplify a condition. A student may not have adequate access to their prescription medication or mental health facilities. In addition, culture shock, language barriers, and homesickness can deepen isolation or depression.
Before traveling, create a workable plan for managing your mental health while abroad. The availability and quality of mental health services differ widely from country to country. In many countries, students will find it difficult — and sometimes impossible — to find treatment for mental health conditions. With your health services provider or your school, put together a workable mental health plan before you go overseas.
- If you have a medical or psychological condition that may require treatment while you are abroad, discuss this ahead of time with your doctor. A vacation or study abroad is a great opportunity to try new things but this is not the time to experiment with not taking your medicine or mixing alcohol with medicine.
- Research the social culture of your destination to learn about how mental illnesses are viewed. Attitudes toward mental health can greatly vary between countries.
- If you are studying abroad through your university, talk to your university about access to mental health services at overseas programs. Your study abroad office can help you decide what program would be best for you.
- If currently receiving mental health services — including prescription medication — find out if those services and/or medication are available at your destination. Also, check out our info about carrying prescriptions abroad.
- Consider the support system you’ll have in place while abroad. If possible, know ahead of time who you can consult with about your mental health.