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Why expat employee wellbeing must not be forgotten

A William Russell survey of over 1,100 expatriates living in five countries reveals that 38% feel the quality of their mental health has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to global health insurance provider William Russell (william-russell.com). The new survey results highlight the unique challenge faced by expatriates, who have had to navigate the global pandemic while living, working or studying in a foreign country.

In May 2021, William Russell asked over 1,100 expatriates worldwide about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their mental health; 38% feel the quality of their mental health has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic and 44% say they would have preferred to be in their home country throughout the pandemic.

A William Russell survey of over 1,100 expatriates living in five countries reveals that 38% feel the quality of their mental health has declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to global health insurance provider William Russell (william-russell.com). The new survey results highlight the unique challenge faced by expatriates, who have had to navigate the global pandemic while living, working or studying in a foreign country.

Released at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, these results highlight an under-represented effect of the pandemic – the impact it has had on the mental health of families living abroad. When asked “what Impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on your mental health,” 38% of expats said they had noticed a decline. Overall, 26% said they had experienced a slight worsening while 12% said their mental health was significantly worse.

When it came to talking with fellow expatriates and seeking social support, the results were mixed. 25% of respondents told us expats in their region were discussing mental health less often, while 29% felt that their expat community had started to discuss mental health more frequently.

The survey also also asked expats about the quality of mental health services they have found available in their country of residence. Tellingly, only 10% of respondents said they felt “confident” about the professional mental health resources available. On the other end of the scale, 22% said they were “sceptical,” 46% “uncertain” and 11% reported themselves as feeling “unsatisfied.”

Overall, 31% felt expats in their region were “more concerned” about mental health.

Inez Cooper, managing director and co-founder of William Russell.com, said: “This shows the importance of providing mental health resources dedicated to supporting expatriates, who may feel the effects of events, such as the pandemic, very keenly. Isolation, language and culture barriers and lack of local knowledge may prevent many expatriates from seeking the mental health support they need.

“The figures cover May 2021, but we do not know what they may look like later this and next year. This Mental Health Awareness Week, William Russell urges all of us to take stock of their own mental health. Our international health insurance supports mental as well as physical health, and we urge anyone who feels the quality of their mental health has declined to make use of their cover and seek the support they need.”

Data relates to a survey of 1,184 randomly selected expats in Australia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States aged 16 and upwards, carried out by eOpinion Research on behalf of William Russell between 3 – 7 May 2021.

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