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Expat Mental Health During COVID-19

Recently, we have been talking about mental health in our Instagram account because we wanted to know how you feel about it and what are your thoughts. We asked if being an expat increases the possibilities to have mental health issues and the 80% of you answered that it is possible. Studies and reports confirm it too. Indeed, expats are exposed 3 times more to stress, challenges, culture shock and more.

This is the expat situation on a normal basis, but what really happened in this pandemic? How COVID-19 affected the mental health of expats? William Russell ran a survey to deep dive into this topic and understand better what the pandemic has done to expats. The survey reached out to 1,184 expats, including foreign workers, students and retirees of all ages. All living across Australia, Hong Kong, EAE, UK and USA.

How has the pandemic affected expat mental health?

The overall results of the survey reveal a duality of the expat experience. The 22% of the expats said that their mental health has actually improved, while the majority affirmed that it has become worse. Apparently, the expats who already felt confident about living in another country felt less impacted. However, for people still adapting to the new life, country and culture, it felt to be shaken even more by the foundations of their lifestyle and experience.

One of the statements in the survey was “I would prefer to be in my home country during the COVID-19 pandemic”, here 44% of the respondents agreed with the statement and 15% strongly agreed. Only 33% of respondents disagreed with this statement. From my personal expat experience, I heard stories that completely reflect these results. Indeed, some expat friends felt the need to go back to their home countries, while others (like myself) preferred to stay.

Another aspect of this survey touched on interpersonal relationships and here the data tells a mixed story: 24% affirmed that their relationships with people in their home countries had worsened, while 18% said that they had improved.

Something also interesting is shown when it comes to relationships with people in the country where they live and work: 9% said that their relationships with other people had worsened, while 35% felt their relationships with locals had improved. This also means that many expats were able to find friendly help and support in their countries or residence.

This is a very interesting survey which gives a lot of insights and data on real expat experiences. Of course, this doesn’t represent the universal feeling and experience of all the expats around the world, and therefore we are even more happier to hear your stories, feelings and experiences, when it comes to this topic.

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