Top 10 Mental Health Challenges You’ll Encounter As An Expat

Expat Wellness Tips

10 Expat Mental Health Challenges

While there are plenty of expat benefits to look forward to if and when you decide to pack your life away and move to another country for work, love, adventure, or a combination of all three, the experience is not always sunshine and rainbows.

Many expats have also experienced mental health struggles as they attempt to settle into their new home, making it difficult to call the place home. If you are planning to move to a new country, it’s always worth knowing what challenges you could encounter, and when it comes to mental health, it is arguably even more crucial. With that in mind, here are the top ten mental health challenges you’ll encounter as an expat.

Culture Shock Adjustment

Although it feels like the world is pretty much the same considering how connected humanity is through social media and the internet, culture shock is still prevalent. Many expats can quickly feel like the culture shock is too much and struggle to feel like they belong, particularly if they move to a new country not knowing anyone. This issue can cause significant distress, and you might not have the confidence to put yourself out there and learn more about where you are.

Loneliness and Isolation

Similarly, you may also feel lonely and isolated. Although some expats will move to a new country with family or partners, others may need to do it, as they feel there’s nothing at home for them. Still, any plans for a fresh start begin to fall apart if they don’t make an effort to meet new people. Even if they try their hardest, there’s no guarantee these new relationships and friendships stick. Finding your community can be tricky, but there is something for everyone anywhere.

Communication Struggles

If you plan to move somewhere where the primary language is not English, you may encounter some problems. While you may still be able to get by, learning the language is still vital. If you can communicate with as many people as possible, you will feel more at home. This feeling will drastically reduce mental health struggles as you can blend in easier. It will take time and effort, but it will be worth it, as you can avoid that feeling of being lost and alone even when you’re surrounded by people.

Feeling Like You’re Missing Out

Saying goodbye to friends and family is always challenging. You may be going on this adventure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you’re missing out on everything going on back home. This can be a particular issue with social media. You see friends getting together and having fun while you’re spending time at home by yourself. It’s enough to wonder if your adventure is even worth it, but you must remember why you moved initially.

Not Being Able to Help Family and Friends

Similarly, you may also feel like you can’t help friends and family when they are in need. Since you can’t be there whenever they need you, it becomes more challenging to face up to their struggles. This can be even worse when coping with grief if you cannot leave the country due to residency application rules or other restrictions. Being so far away makes you feel lost and helpless. You wish you could be there but can’t. Hopefully, your family and friends will understand.

Uncertainty About Your Treatment Options

Healthcare is another substantial fear you may have, and this can directly impact your mental well-being. While you can invest in travel insurance at first, this may be expensive at first. Hopefully, your job should provide healthcare coverage, but what about mental health problems? You may need to attend rehab for depression or other mental health issues, and this requires treatment from someone you can communicate weight easily.

Failing to Meet Your Expectations

Everyone who moves to another country has big dreams. They often expect that becoming an expat will solve all of their problems, yet the reality is not always so true. Failing to meet expectations and live the life you hoped you would can still serve a severe hit to your mental well-being. With every disappointment, your mental health problems compound. They impact your self-esteem and even your motivation. This can make it seem like the only option is going home, yet this can also make you feel like a failure, making it tricky to decide what’s best for you.

Overfilling Your Cup

When you arrive in a new country, you want to experience as much as possible. You want to impress new friends and your coworkers, so you might say yes to every request. However, while it’s admirable to try to hit the ground running, you risk overfilling your cup. Even the most energetic person cannot keep up with doing something all the time, and this will typically lead to burnout sooner rather than later.

A Lack of Security

Becoming an expat also comes with a feeling that you lack the same security and rights as a citizen. Since you do not possess citizenship, you may be passed over for jobs even if you do everything you can to integrate and become a citizen. This can add an unnecessary amount of anxiety to your day-to-day life which could affect your mental health or even your safety, especially if you don’t have a partner or family to support you.

Citizenship or Residency Paperwork

Once you get to the point when you can apply for citizenship or residency, you may feel like all your problems are gone. However, depending on the country you’re trying to gain residency or EU citizenship for, you may still have plenty to worry about. Many applications can be stressful and could involve complicated processes that can do more harm than good, especially for your mental health. Immigration attorneys can assist in this process if you can afford it.


Life is full of challenges, but when you move to another country (especially one where you cannot speak the language or know anyone), these challenges become much more extreme. As long as you prepare for the challenges and consider the best ways to overcome them, you will have no trouble making the most of them and thriving.


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