The subject of mental health for expats has gained a lot of publicity during the last few years, and more and more experts as well as corporate entities acknowledge the fact, that developing strategies to maintain excellent mental health, play an integral role in overall happiness and expat employee placement success.
Mental Health and Mental Illness are not the same!
Mental health should not be confused with mental illness. Whiles the term “mental illness” encompasses numerous mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, depression and personality disorders, mental health focuses on an individual’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we handle stressful situations, make personal choices and decisions and how we interact with other people in our daily lives.
We all have our own personal “trigger” moments that could result in a tremendous amount of stress and if these buttons are to be pushed intentionally or accidentally, we all respond in our own unique ways of dealing with such events. Assuming we are totally immune against any form of mental illness would therefore be wrong.
Expats have a higher risk of developing mental health issues
Living the life of an expat can be very challenging and demanding at times. Our hectic and busy lifestyles, appointments and meetings many times dictate and take over our daily activities. And many recent studies conducted on expat happiness and mental health have clearly demonstrated that expats are at a much higher risk to falling prey to mental health issues, than individuals living in their own home countries.
Social life disruption due to displacement from a social support network, high work demands coupled with recurrent overtime, frequent travels resulting in family life disruption, language barriers and cultural dislocation are only some of the many factors that threaten and affect the physical, psychological and emotional well-being of expats.
This in turn can lead to a wide- range of mental health problems, such as:
- Internalization problems (depression, anxiety, sleep and eating issues and in worst cases suicidal thoughts)
- Externalization Problems (attention deficit issues, hyperactivity, marital problems, impulse control and anger issues)
- Substance abuse (misuse of prescription medication, drugs and alcohol)
To help break this vicious circle, expats need to have successful strategies at hand to cope with such an overload of stress and to help escape mental health threats.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the numerous challenges that affect mental health of expats in Ghana and explore ways how to prevent or deal with those particular situations.
Look out for our first part on prevention and treatment of “Culture Shock in Ghana” which will be coming soon.
We would love to hear from your personal experiences as an expat in Ghana
- Did you experience any challenges during relocation to Ghana?
- What strategies have helped you deal with challenging situations you might have encountered?
- Or are you currently still stuck in a particular situation?
Leave us a comment or get in touch if you are looking for professional help to deal with your current situation. We have partnered up with well- known mental health specialists in Ghana and can help you connect.