Mental health: what are the warning signs international residents should look out for?

Even today, mental health issues are too often subject to stigma and taboos. If you’re living or working abroad, you can face huge challenges and not know where to turn for help or support.

Mental health: what are the warning signs international residents should look out for?
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The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on some issues of stress, loneliness and depression. But it should not need a global crisis to increase awareness of and create more open discussion about such a serious issue.

The Local has partnered with AXA – Global Healthcare to examine how and why people living international lives should pay special attention to their mental health.

Moving abroad to work? Find out more about AXA – Global Healthcare’s international health insurance options

Trouble adjusting? You’re not alone

Following a career overseas as an international worker can be exciting and challenging in equal measure. Multinational workforces are now the norm in most global major cities and businesses increasingly view diversity as one of their biggest strengths.

Yet many people struggle to adapt as they face up to dealing with culture shock, new ways of working, a different language, and being distant from friends and family. If this sounds familiar, you’re far from alone.

One in five employees surveyed in AXA’s 2020 World of Work research¹ experienced mind health difficulties while working away from home. Half said that the biggest impact on their mental health came at the start of their time in a new location.

Mental health challenges faced when working away from home can have a number of consequences, such as work performance issues, increased risk of illness and organizational difficulties. In some cases, this can lead to assignments ending early and missed experiences. 

Working away from home always comes with its own series of challenges, without mental health difficulties compounding the situation. This is why it’s so important not only to monitor how you’re doing, but also be able to have meaningful conversations with your manager if you’re struggling.

This is not always possible. Around two thirds (64 percent) of employees surveyed agreed that their employer could do more to support their mental health and 50 percent said that their employer only offers support in response to a crisis¹. In taking a new position overseas, it’s worthwhile asking what support a potential employer can offer you.

With AXA’s Mind Health service, you can speak to a psychologist from wherever you are in the world².

Know the warning signs

While everybody responds to stress and difficulties differently, there are common signs that you may be struggling. If you experience a number of the following over the space of a few weeks, it’s worth contacting a health professional to talk.

Reflect, reevaluate, recharge

It could be worth monitoring your mood and observing whether there is a discernible dip, or an increase in negative feelings.

There are a number of free apps and online tools, including AXA’s Low Mood and Anxiety Quizzes, that can allow you to track your daily mood over the space of weeks or months. They can also allow you to identify triggers for sudden dips in mood, or anxiety.

If the results of your mood tracking raises concerns about your mental health, your insurer will often have support services to help you rest, recharge and heal. 

AXA, a global leader in health insurance, has multiple levels of cover to suit you at different stages of your life, giving you access to local healthcare professionals and facilities. If you struggle with the local language, and/or prefer to speak to a doctor from where you are, their Virtual Doctor service can do everything from consultations, to prescriptions and referrals to specialists if you need further treatment³. 

Mental health is as important as our physical health, and it deserves the same attention. If you’re in an environment that may lead to increased stress and mental health challenges, it’s worth considering how you can take the best care of yourself and make the most of your opportunities abroad.

Understand the range of insurance options that can help you take care of your health with AXA

1. Research conducted in April 2020 by Savanta. A total of 543 HR decision makers (108 in North America, 105 in the UK, 51 in France, 54 in Germany, 111 in China, 55 in Hong Kong and 59 in Singapore) and 568 non-native assignees (107 in North America, 113 in the UK, 57 in France, 57 in Germany, 116 in China, 60 in Hong Kong and 65 in Singapore) were surveyed.

2. The service provides you with up to 6 sessions with a psychologist, per mind health concern, per policy year.

3.  Appointments are subject to availability. You do not need to pay or claim for a consultation but you will be charged for the cost of the initial phone call when using the call back service. Telephone appointments are available 24/7/365 and call-backs are typically within 24 hours. Video appointments are available between 08.00 and 00.00 UK time, Monday to Friday. Video appointments in German are available between 08:00-20:00 CET, Monday to Friday. Prescriptions are available if medically necessary and are subject to your location.

This article was produced by The Local Creative Studio and presented by AXA.

AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited. Registered in Ireland number 630468. Registered Office: Wolfe Tone House, Wolfe Tone Street, Dublin 1. AXA Global Healthcare (EU) Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited. Registered in England (No. 03039521). Registered Office: 20 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0BG, United Kingdom. AXA Global Healthcare (UK) Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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How freelancers in Austria can get a €100 health bonus in 2023

The public health insurance SVS, used by the self-employed and freelancers in Austria, is promoting a new €100 health bonus in 2023. Here's how you can get it.

How freelancers in Austria can get a €100 health bonus in 2023

Austria’s compulsory insurance company SVS, which mainly insures self-employed and freelance people, has a new campaign called “precaution together” (Gemeinsam vorsorgen) to promote health checks among its members.

Freelancers can get a €100 tax-free bonus if they do a preventive check-up. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the SVS?

Everyone in Austria must have public health insurance – with few exceptions. Enrolment is usually automatic and linked to employment, so most workers are insured by the company ÖGK through their employer. 

However, many will be insured with other companies (such as SVS for self-employed and freelancers and BVAEB for public servants). Insurance is also guaranteed to co-insured persons, such as spouses and dependents, pensioners, students, disabled people, and those receiving unemployment benefits.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

So, if you are a tradesperson, self-employed, freelancer or farmer, you (and dependent relatives) are insured with SVS.

What is the new campaign?

The Austrian health system consistently focuses on prevention, and its health insurance companies often have campaigns to promote healthier living. Now, SVS wants to raise awareness of preventive care.

“Preventive checkups are among the most important and effective measures for the early detection of diseases and are an essential investment in health.”

The idea is to incentivise people to take advantage of the free yearly checkup they are entitled to. Those who participate in the screening will get a €100 health bonus. 

This one-time bonus is also available for your co-insured dependents for participating in the preventive medical check-up and for children and adolescents aged 6-18 for participating in the SVS Health Check Junior.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How freelancers in Austria can pay four times less in social insurance

Who will get the money?

The health bonus is sent automatically for all those who are insured and:

  • have not yet reached the age of 40 on January 1st 2023 and complete a check-up between January 1st 2021 to December 31st 2023
  • have already reached the age of 40 on January 1st 2023, and undergo a preventive exam between January 1st 2022 and December 31st 2023 and,
  • children from six to 18 years of age who complete an adolescent examination or a Junior Health Check from January 1st 2021, to December 31st

The benefit works retroactively, as shown above, so if you went to an exam last year, for example, you would still get the payment. Additionally, the benefit can be claimed a maximum of once per insured person for themselves and once for each dependent relative. 

READ ALSO: ‘Kur’: The alternative treatments you can get from a doctor in Austria

How do I get the money?

From 2023, the payment will be made automatically based on the service billed or submitted for reimbursement. The money will be sent to your bank account on file with SVS – if there is none, the company will ask you to provide further details.

For all those who have already completed the preventive medical check-up in 2021/2022, the €100 bonus will be paid in the 1st quarter of 2023; for all others in 2023 after completion of the preventive medical check-up and settlement of the benefit by the SVS. 

The benefit is tax-free. You can read more about it HERE.