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94 per cent of expats unprepared for mental health issues associated with relocating abroad, according to Aetna International

A rise in expat mental health claims prevalence points to growing global issue of mental health

Absence of friend and family networks is a major contributing factor

According to the latest research study by leading health benefits and services partner, Aetna International, Expatriate mental health: Breaking the silence and ending the stigma, mental health is a growing issue for expats; workers and their employers, as well as those relocating independently.  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. 

A survey of 5000 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. In the analysis between 2014-2016, mental health claims prevalence in Europe showed the greatest increase (33 percent), followed by the Middle East and Africa (28 percent), the Americas (26 percent) and Southeast Asia (19 percent).  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, says: “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.”

“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.”

Listen to Dr Sneh Khemka as he discusses breaking the mental health stigma in our Fit for Duty podcast episode below.

Enquiries for Aetna International 
Grayling Communications 
020 3861 3826

Notes to the Editors

About Aetna International 
Aetna International is committed to helping create a stronger, healthier global community by delivering comprehensive health care benefits and population health solutions worldwide. One of the largest providers of international health benefits and services, Aetna International serves more than 700,000 members worldwide, including expatriates, local nationals, and business travellers. Its global benefits include medical, dental, vision and emergency assistance and, in some regions, life and disability. Aetna International also offers customised technological and health management solutions for healthcare systems, government entities, and large employers to improve people’s health, enhance the quality of care and contain costs. For more information, see

About Aetna 
Aetna is one of the leading diversified health care benefits companies in the U.S., serving an estimated 46.7 million people with information and resources to help them make better-informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers' compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna's customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups, and expatriates. For more information, see and learn about how Aetna is helping to build a healthier world. @AetnaNews

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