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"Mind how you go" when Travelling Abroad

16 October 2015 by Anna Staford

World Travel Insurance News

To mark the World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is teaming up with the Mental Health Foundation to raise awareness of how British nationals with mental health needs can prepare before travelling overseas, and how the FCO can help should travellers experience difficulties.

From 2009/10 to 2014/15 the number of British nationals with mental health needs requiring help from the FCO increased by 48% globally, making this an area of increasing focus.

Mind how you go

Georgina Hollingsworth, Consular Social Work Advisor at the FCO, said:

"With one in four people in any given year expected to experience a mental health problem, it isn’t surprising that we have seen an increase in the number of people the Foreign Office is supporting overseas. We have been working hard to ensure our staff are better able to understand common mental health needs and recognise signs and symptoms, but we also want to ensure that travellers are aware of steps they can take themselves to help ensure trouble-free travel abroad.

"A trip overseas can be immensely enjoyable, but it can also be challenging. Simple steps such as adequately researching your destination can make all the difference, as well as understanding how the FCO can help if you do run into problems. So have a look at our advice, mind how you go and, most importantly, have a fantastic trip."

While mental health needs can vary significantly, there are a number of steps people can take before and during foreign travel to help ensure a trouble-free trip:

  • take out travel insurance before you go and check your policy covers any pre-existing mental health conditions; if travelling in the European Economic Area take a valid European Health Insurance Card too
  • if you take medication, check it is legal and available in your destination and make sure you take enough for your trip (plus some extra to cover any unexpected delays)
  • check what mental health services are available in the country and destination you are visiting
  • consider who you would contact if your mental health deteriorated while abroad, and ensure you have means of contacting them in an emergency
  • research your destination and check the FCO travel advice for the country you are visiting
  • leave copies of your travel documents and itinerary with friends, family or a trusted person
  • be aware of how the FCO can help if you run into difficulties overseas

Travellers can find more information and advice in the FCO’s leaflet, ‘Mental Health: Travelling Abroad’.

Read also: EHIC? Good But Not That Good!

The leaflet has been updated after gathering feedback from a range of people with mental health needs and organisations that specialise in mental health support.

Jenny Edwards, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

"Many people in the UK with mental health conditions manage them well day to day. However, there are a few extra things to consider when travelling abroad. Check your travel insurance covers pre-existing mental health conditions before travelling and make sure that your medication is legal, available, and sufficient for your trip. Changes to your itinerary or a delayed flight could impact your mental health needs so it is important to travel prepared – pack medication in your hand luggage and keep a record of your mental health contacts in the UK in case you need to reach them. Research your travel destination and locate the local mental health services for that country. By following these simple steps, a relaxing trip can be easily enjoyed."

Further information

For information and advice about foreign travel and mental health visit FCO advice page.

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