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28pc of expats in MEA 'lack mind-set for relocation'

DUBAI, May 17, 2017

About 28 per cent of expatriates in the Middle East and Africa are unprepared for mental health issues associated with relocating abroad, said Aetna International, a leading provider of health benefits and services.

In the analysis between 2014-2016, mental health claims prevalence in Europe showed the greatest increase (33 percent), the Americas (26 percent) and Southeast Asia (19 percent).

To ensure expats have the vital support they need when relocating or working away from their home country, the company is calling for businesses and individuals to take more pre-emptive action to combat the problem.

The survey of 5,000 Aetna International members in 2016 revealed that that just 6 percent of expats are concerned about mental health issues before relocating. A mind-set open to risk and challenges means that few feel the need or want to take steps to manage any potential issues in advance.

Yet according to the latest claims data from Aetna International, mental health is a growing issue for expats across the globe.

Depression emerged as the most prevalent condition (50 percent prevalence increase), followed by anxiety (28 percent prevalence increase), and women between the ages of 30 and 49 were the most likely to seek treatment.

Dr Mitesh Patel, medical director, Aetna International, said: “Part of the reason expats are more susceptible to mental health issues is the absence of the family and friends network they relied on for support back home.”  

“We believe that employers should be taking a more preventive approach, introducing solutions such as employee assistance programmes. At best, these not only tackle mental health concerns when they arise, but encourage broader employee wellness to address issues before they escalate.

“Similarly, expats relocating independently should also consider preparing for the challenges they may face and seeking support before and during their move. Increasing knowledge around mental health issues and the support available can change attitudes towards those with mental health, and the behaviour of those coping with issues,” he added.

“Our In Touch Care offering has been designed with this in mind. We offer one-to-one support to vulnerable members and provide ongoing support, ensuring that wherever they are in the world they have quick and easy access to the help they need. Since this service launched for our Americas’ members, we have seen a decrease in mental health claims costs per member, suggesting that our support may have reduced the frequency of their visits to mental health treatment providers,” Dr Patel concluded. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Relocation | expats | Mental health | Aetna |

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