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Mental Health

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by TexanTeacher2013, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Based on the national average of individuals suffering with some type of mental illness, I being one, suffer with anxiety and depression, I wonder about the number of expats living with mental illnesses. Is he world abroad receptive and sensitive towards these matters.

    For example, in the US I take medication and see a therapist twice a week. Is this something that's achievable abroad?
  2. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    It’s going to be much harder to access the services. I seem to remember you are moving to China and not Beijing, Shanghai or GZ.

    You are going to find it challenging to find a therapist (they exist in the larger cities at a premium price and second rate service). You might also struggle to get medication. Even if you can get it, it probably won’t be covered on your insurance and will again be a premium price.

    Personally, I wouldn’t recommend many overseas locations (there are a few where it could be easier W Europe, HK etc) for people needing mental health support (the move abroad is incredibly stressful as well). This is not to say it can’t be done and I applaud those who do manage it, but it is significantly harder.
    Teachallover likes this.
  3. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    It also depends on what is causing your condition, is it medical or environmental issues.

    Many UK based teachers with work related health conditions find moving out of an inner city hell hole of a school into a true international school improves their mental health. Some teachers from the UK would easily fit Post Dramatic Stress Disorder diagnosis.

    Also giving yourself a new challenge in life can be beneficial to your mental health. You are replacing one set of life stress with others.

    But access to the medical resources you have now will be next to impossible in China.

    Maybe try a months summer work volunteering overseas to test how you feel first.
  4. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    Here in Taiwan medication and therapy is available. I suffer from severe anxiety & social anxiety, and depression. I see my psychiatrist every month and there are other support networks available depending on what you need. I have a friend in China who has the same issues and has not had a problem accessing medication and therapy.

    There is also the option these days to do web therapy so if a therapist isn't available you can access one online. Yay technology!
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  5. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, I have had quite a few messages and e-mails over the years from teachers who were struggling with all kinds of problems in the UK. These things often disappeared (or were nowhere near as bad) when they found themselves in a less stressful environment. I am really not an mental health expert, but it seems to me that medication might reduce the symptoms but it does not remove the cause.

    Yes, I would go along with most of what february31st has written. Medical provision in China varies a lot from city to city, I believe, and sometimes there are things available but you just do not know where. On the whole, Mrs Hippopotamus and her overweight husband were pleased with the medical services in Shenzhen.

    A friend of mine thought that acupuncture was a lot of old nonsense. Then he tried it and it worked, amazingly! Perhaps one thing to bear in mind is that in China there are lots of different treatments that are not routinely available back in the UK.

    In China, one of the most stressful (and time-consuming) activities that we poor laowai have to do is to go to the bank, in order to transfer our cash back to the UK or wherever. So do you need Valium or a bottle of Scotch? Usually I just took a pile of exercise books and marked them while I waited. And waited.
  6. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Our family has benefited greatly from online therapists. It’s available whenever and wherever. Yes, most likely you’ll pay out of pocket, with the benefit that it’s private. Some schools and locations are quite understanding about such matters, and others aren’t there yet. Same with all the individual bosses one might encounter.
    TexanTeacher2013 likes this.
  7. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    I was diagnosed in 2015 after working at a extremely stressful campus for 2 years (Believe it or not I am still at this campus). According to staff, 80% of the faculty are currently taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications due to work load, behaviors, and all the other stessors that come woth a title 1( high poverty) institution.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  8. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    This is wonderful news! Thanks for sharing.
  9. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Thank you for your insight. I hadn't considered acupuncture for depression, but I have used it for poor circulation and headaches.
    I think a new environment will prove beneficial. I plan on asking my physician for 6 months of medication prior to the move.
  10. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    Check what the countries you are interested in have regarding medication too. The last thing you want is to have to transition to different medication while abroad.

    Some places let you buy UK prescription medicines over the counter :eek:. But then ban medications available in the UK :(.

    Also, consider climate/seasons. Being stuck inside because of extreme weather/pollution can take its toll on you.
  11. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Valuable information. Thank you Ne11y.
  12. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    Hi. I have complex PTSD and other mental health issues that come in that package, such as anxiety.

    When I first moved abroad, I found a huge improvement in my symptoms, but a change in school management led to a lot of triggers and a resurfacing of the anxiety and other symptoms.

    On the decent salary at that school, I was able to pay for counselling, which comes at a premium out here. It was difficult to find a counsellor I really gelled with and who fit my requirements - I insist on a female counsellor and most of my options were male.

    I have since moved to another school and now get paid half the salary. I can still manage two sessions a month, but it is tight. If mental health care is a significant factor, I would certainly factor that into your cost of living when considering a package or offer.

    Also bear in mind other things you might come across, witness or experience whilst out here. My counsellor says about 80% of her clients are teachers, many of whom find it difficult to live in an environment where all their friends are work colleagues, or where people move on so frequently and there is constant change, for example.

    Don't get me wrong, moving out here is the best choice I ever made, but I would definitely consider carefully.
    TexanTeacher2013 likes this.
  13. clovispoint

    clovispoint Occasional commenter

    Mental health issues may well not be covered under the medical insurance offered. It is not covered by my employer here in Hong Kong. Mental health is not given the same level of understanding (by employers or local culture) as you would find in the west- where it is still gaining recognition.

    Local hospitals do offer mental health services but you will likely run into language difficulties. Hospitals here have highly competent staff who communicate very effectively but you are unlikely to have the same level of conversation as you would have with a native language counsellor or therapist. Such treatment is available at significant expense at western medical facilities in the business districts and upscale residential areas.
    tjh102 likes this.
  14. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, I sympathize with you, tjh102, and I think that I can understand some of what are saying.

    At my school in China, we hardly had any meetings in my first two years. It was wonderful! Then we had a new principal and there was a big push for CIS accreditation. (None of the staff were bothered about getting accredited.) This meant more and more and more meetings, plus "gathering evidence" and then having meetings to evaluate the evidence that we had gathered. It really was rather stressful and time-wasting. These meetings were usually scheduled when you had one or two other little things to do, such as being on duty, ECAs, planning, putting up displays, preparing teaching materials, marking your students' work, attending meetings with parents and sometimes even teaching.
  15. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    You probably wouldn't find a counsellor in my part of Thailand, but most antidepressants are available of the counter. If you don't mind buying the generic thai brand it'll probably cost you around US$10 a month.

    Thais only seem to care about addictive drugs. For those you'll need a doctor's prescription.
  16. TexanTeacher2013

    TexanTeacher2013 New commenter

    Great conversations. Thanks all!
  17. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    I agree with @february31st : it depends on what your depression/anxiety is attributed to - medical or your work/life situation?

    I had enormous issues with stress/depression when working in the UK and had to go sick, long-term. Mine was the 'situation' - horrible inner-city school, inept and unapproachable SLT, knife to my throat, flying chairs across the classroom, being spat at and being called a c**t several times a day (all by secondary students and not the teachers I hasten to add lol). SLT did NOTHING to support and I was an NQT then. They often took the side of the students for fear of being twa**ed by their thug parents! I then went International into Europe, and the stress went completely away, for a few years anyway, until rising costs and (non-rising salary) and the school becoming more UK-like with it's excessive pointless paperwork made me stressed and miserable once again. Now I'm in China and loving it, though I'm in the capital and not sure how I would feel if I were in more a rural area.

    I would research very carefully what help is/would be available in your intended area - I think it was rural(ish) China, if I remember correctly? Hope you get sorted. Good luck.
  18. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I don't have experience of it personally, but I think part of the problem in China is the cultural attitude to it - mental health isn't really spoken about, and sometimes dealing with kids who have problems as well as their parents can be difficult, even just to get them to acknowledge the issues.

    Look to see if your staff has a counsellor - usually schools will allow teachers to speak to the student counsellor. You can also look into internet counselling - I know people who have done this in the past and it has helped.
  19. sparklesparkle

    sparklesparkle Established commenter

    Didn't you say that you are moving to a rural school in China? Moving is one of the most stressful things you can do, doubly so if you are moving to a foreign country. Even if your stress is environmental, have you fully appreciated the stress of a new country, a new home, a new curriculum and a new school?
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  20. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I agree with @sparklesparkle. I'm not convinced the OP knows what he's letting himself in for. Your environment can have a massive impact on your mental health, especially if you are isolated due to the language and cultural differences.
    sparklesparkle likes this.

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