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 wonderful 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 of 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 committed 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, loneliness 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).
Retiree pension squeezes from currency changes can’t help
With the baht currently so strong and retiree pensions from the likes of the UK and Australia being so weak, this is placing a financial burden and stress on many retirees living in Thailand.
It must be putting enormous pressure on many who cannot relocate due to wife and kids being in Thailand – and not having the money – full stop – to relocate them anyway.
Although my blogs are normally very positive, I just wanted to address and raise awareness for what is a silent killer.
Maybe we all need to be a bit more mindful of fellow expats current positions and there to cheer them up when we can.
If you are an expat and do feel you have some form of mental health issue, like anxiety or depression, I did find a website that can help you: https://expatchild.com/expats-and-mental-health/.