Expat Focus Mental Health Update January 2022

“Intrinsic link” between financial advice and mental health

Investment advisory firm Black Swan Capital reported last month that surveys have shown an ‘intrinsic link’ between mental health and receiving financial advice. The study was undertaken by leading bank HSBC, and highlighted a number of points:

• 74% of adults who sought financial advice have an increased likelihood of having average or above average mental health
• 72% of respondents who have a professional financial plan and who review it at least once a year have average or above average mental health

By contrast, in the case of respondents who said they did not have a financial plan, only 42% fell under the average and above average group. 48% felt they had below average mental health. The 42% of respondents who did not seek financial advice reported that their mental health had slipped below average.

These findings must, of course, be regarded in the light of possible cause and effect. For example, people who are in good mental health might be wealthier and more likely to seek financial counselling than those who are struggling with poor mental health and a lower income. HSBC claims that:

“Making small changes to your financial planning today can not only have a big impact on your current wellbeing, but also improve your overall health, especially both physically and more importantly mentally in the future.”

Getting your finances in order can contribute to feelings of empowerment and wellbeing. Stress over finances can significantly impact on mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and insomnia, among other symptoms. Mentalhealth.org.uk advise using a budget tool to try to get a grip on your finances. They also suggest seeking help if necessary. For example, if you are abroad, you may be able to get help from your employer, or you could even be entitled to government funding (such as Covid-19 relief).

Mentalhealth.org.uk also advise that people keep abreast of their insurance policies. Life cover, critical illness cover, mortgage insurance and even home insurance can include clauses which cover legal advice, something many people are not aware of.

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Check, too, if your employment sector has a benevolent charity, either in your home country or in your country of residence. This may be a long shot, but is worth pursuing.

 

Expats ask for greater choice in insurance

Mental health is becoming increasingly important to expats, and a recent survey suggested that around 25% would like to see counselling and therapy sessions included in insurance packages from employers. This was particularly prevalent among respondents from the USA and Singapore, as well as the UK, the UAE, and Hong Kong. Expats would also like to see support from their employers in terms of access to mindfulness apps, yoga and fitness sessions, and life coaching. Respondents felt that these benefits would provide significant support in relation to maintaining a good level of mental health. To remain competitive, employers should consider offering their employees decent healthcare packages, as well as attractive salaries.

 

Accessing internet therapy

We have reported before on the growing market of online counselling and therapy, which expats in particular might find useful, especially if language issues in their host nation prevent them from accessing in-person counselling. When seeking online therapy, here are some questions to ask yourself:

• Would you prefer to access therapy that is based in your home country?
• Would you prefer to access expat-specific therapy from a counsellor in your host nation, who shares your language and perhaps nationality?
• Are there cost issues?
• Can your employer connect you to online help?

A Google search can help you find online counselling in your host nation, or you might prefer to contact your local GP or clinic. Your HR department may also be able to offer help. Therapy that is based in your home nation could be of value, but bear in mind that there may be a time difference. Think carefully about how you will fit the sessions into your existing schedule.

We have included some links below to various providers across the world.

  • ChangeWorks is a UK-based organisation which runs sessions specifically tailored to expat clients
  • Expatherapy4u also runs sessions, mainly for clients in Europe – sessions cost between €90 and €149
  • BetterHelp.com provides online counselling for expats and others
  • PynkHealth runs online counselling for women in Australia as part of their telehealth service
  • Transitions Therapy, who are London based, offer services for expatriates, repatriates, Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) and Distance Families – services provided include psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, counselling, coaching and clinical supervision
  • Whitney Russell offers career development coaching and more general life coaching
  • USA-based The UPside Delivered offers a subscriber service for tools and resources for children, designed to lower stress

When choosing an online therapist, do not hesitate to ask for testimonials and references, as well as qualifications. You should take the same care in selecting an online therapist as you would in choosing an in-person counsellor. Ask if sample sessions are available to see if you and the therapist are a good fit.


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