In the UK mental health issues seem to be rife and I read a lot about it in the media. Latest data shows 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year – that shocked me, but what shocked me more was the statistics when it came to Expats.
When I think of myself and my fellow expats I think of go-getters who have embraced the world and want to see more. A glance at other expat social network feeds on the whole show a wonferful lifestyle, but as most of us know already what people post on Facebook and the likes may not be the reality.
According to a 2018 US study comparing US expatriates with those that stayed at home, it concluded “Expats are at double the risk of mental health conditions compared to people who never move abroad.”
Figures indicate that expats are particularly at risk of developing anxiety and depression after the move. So, while the choices of expats might seem outwardly glamorous, it can mask pain within.
Whilst political refugees or those escaping danger and conflict to one side reported an improved life, those others that left their countries to seek an improved dream life often become lonely and isolated. It found that Expats can also fall into the trap of thinking about their friends and family back home and wishing for their old life.
But does this apply to Expats in Thailand?
I am a little torn as to know what to feel on this topic, as I have never been depressed or had any issues since moving to Thailand. I do know many fellow Expats who have questioned whether they are doing the right thing being in another country away from family and friends, but have been unaware if this has become a mental health issue for anyone.
That, I guess, is part of the problem. We can also be ignorant to fellow Expats mental health and therefore not there to support any of them. Indeed those suffering could be either unaware how big the problem is or too proud to talk about it.
In the 15 years of living in Thailand I can recall 3 expats that I knew who have commit suicide through depression. That is 3 people too many and all of them were a surprise to everyone else – no one had a clue they were depressed.
Issues like depression, lonelyness or anxiety would offer some answers to the number of expats who jump to the death from balconies. But even then, to put this into perspective, according to the British Embassy, this number is still far less than those youngsters falling from balconies drunk in Spain).
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