Nearly 20% increase in mental health claims from expats in APAC

Aetna International has just released its latest Expatriate mental health: Breaking the silence and ending the stigma study (26 June) which reported mental health a growing issue for expats; workers and their employers, as well as those relocating independently.

A survey of 5000 Aetna International members in 2016 revealed that that 6% of expats are concerned about mental health issues before relocating. The findings also suggest that since most expats have a mind-set open to risk and challenges, some of them may consequently be less likely to take steps to manage any potential issues in advance, not just for themselves, but their accompanying dependant family members as well.

Derek Goldberg, managing director, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Aetna Inc. said: “There are many challenges that expats face which can result in debilitating mental health issues if ignored. Often, they have to adjust quickly to new and sometimes very different cultures, languages and work responsibilities, and without the usual social support networks back home.”

According to Aetna International member data between 2014 to 2016, mental health claims prevalence in Europe showed the greatest increase (33%), followed by the Middle East and Africa (28%), the Americas (26%) then Southeast Asia (19%).

Depression emerged as the most prevalent condition (50% prevalence increase), followed by anxiety (28% prevalence increase), with women between the ages of 30 and 49 being the most likely to seek treatment.

In the press release, Dr. Mitesh Patel, medical director, Aetna International commented: “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.”


This article was first published in Human Resources and is reproduced with permission. Original article can be found at

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