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Mental Health Abroad

It is important for students with mental health challenges to prepare for the shift to a new environment and routine during studying abroad. Many students who study abroad compare their emotions during the first couple of weeks abroad to their first semester at college. Think back to what you needed during that time. What resources did you use? What would you have done differently? Next, engage with your mental health team, including doctors, counselors, therapists and advisors to make a plan to stay healthy.

Different countries might have limited knowledge of mental illness and the language barriers might make it difficult to seek out mental health professionals, so it is important to plan ahead. If you rely on regular counseling or medications, you will need to arrange those abroad before traveling.

Counseling

Speak with your mental health team and the study abroad advisor at MassArt about the best plan for you while abroad. One good resource is MySSP that is available to all MassArt students. It may also be possible to set up regular, in-person counseling sessions at your host institution or nearby where you’ll be studying. The study abroad advisor is able to help with that.

Medications

It is important that you maintain any medication regimens while abroad. You are encouraged to consider the time difference and how that might affect you and your medications. Additionally, some medications may not be available or may even be illegal in your host country. Speak to your team about what you need and what will be available to you while abroad. Some students have opted for a program in a closer time zone, others have switched medications a few months in advance, and others have had someone at home send them over. Depending on your needs and the host country, we can work together on a solution.

Reflect
  • What are the health services like in the destination?
  • What is the culture's perception of medication, and what is/is not available?
  • What are the cultural attitudes toward people with mental health challenges in the host country?
  • Will counseling and therapy be available, and is it offered in my native language?
  • If I take medications, will I have access to them or are there overseas equivalents?
  • Are there gyms or parks nearby that I can use for exercise?
  • Does the program provide a form of support system?
  • How do the classroom setting and physical environment differ?
  • Are there pharmacies close to the housing facilities?
  • What is the policy for confidentiality?
  • What privacy protections apply abroad?
  • Am I mentally prepared to live abroad?
  • Have I spoken to a trusted medical professional about traveling abroad?
  • How important is geographic closeness to friends and family?
  • How will I keep in touch with my support system at home?
  • Am I comfortable disclosing my mental health issue?
  • How do I adjust my medication regimen when crossing time zones?
Resources

We encourage you to make an appointment with MassArt's Study Abroad Advisor to discuss your study abroad plan and any of the topics in this resource guide.

BOOK AN APPOINTMENT