Expats Face “Unique” Mental Health Stresses

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Pryce Warner International Group have over 40 years experience helping expats live and work abroad and advise that expats face “unique” mental health stresses when living overseas, but that these can be combatted.

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There are stresses that are unique to living overseas.... it is common to see people struggle with anxiety, depression, stress or marital problems

Pryce Warner International Group – According to The National, a United Arab Emirates based newspaper, a new company has been launched to help expats deal with the “unique” stresses they face whilst living abroad, and provide them with specific mental health treatments designed to counter them.

The Truman Group, an American-based company, provides the therapy online.

Set up three years ago, the Truman group have six licensed mental health providers with specific experience dealing with expats. Many of these providers have been expats themselves.

The company was founded by Sean Truman, an American who after growing up in Kenya, became interested in how the expat experience was not properly understood by the mental health community.

Recognising that finding qualified, English-speaking therapists whilst living in the far flung corners of the globe can be difficult, he founded the Truman Group to provide tailored mental health solutions online for the specific challenges faced by expats.

He commented: “There are stresses that are unique to living overseas. The life is incredibly exciting and there are many reasons for people to be drawn to live in places that are dramatically different from their home. That said, being far from home can cut people off from social and emotional supports that they need when they encounter problems. This is compounded by the fact that there are frequently moves that occur every two or three years, so there are multiple disruptions that require a lot of adaptation and adjustment. All of these factors can be very disruptive for individuals and families. It is common to see people struggle with anxiety and depression, family stress and marital problems.”

When asked what specific problems expats often encounter. He went on to say: “People living overseas frequently feel isolated and disconnected, and that feeling makes it seem as though they are the only person who is struggling (or who has ever struggled) in this way. The one common thread that runs through the people we provide services to is that they are far from home, living in a country and culture that is not their own.”

Sean Truman offers the following tips for expats trying to adjust to a new life abroad:

1.    “Do not withdraw into a shell upon arrival. Say "yes" to invitations and to try new things.”

2.    “There is frequently a 90-day crash. When people first arrive at a new spot they generally feel excited and exhilarated by the change. After a few months that can change and there is a down period. Don't panic, keep going. If in another month or two things are not getting much better, consider getting help.”

3.    “Focus on the social and emotional supports that are available. Spend time with family (and friends if there are any in your new location). Even if they are not able to do anything to change what is difficult, having people to talk to makes a big difference.”

David Retikin, Director of Pryce Warner International Group commented: “We have dealt with thousands of people encountering the emotional, physical and financial hurdles of living overseas, as well as the great joys of living overseas. The specific mental health challenges faced by expats can often be too easily dismissed as “home sickness” and the Truman Group should be commended for being amongst the first to address the real mental health issues expats can sometimes face.”

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Aneil Fatania
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