Breaking the Stigma About Mental Health Abroad: Correspondents Share Their Personal Stories

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IES Abroad
October 10, 2019

We are so proud that our Correspondents are using their blog posts to help break the stigma about maintaining and managing mental health while studying abroad.

Study abroad can be one of the most incredible adventures of your life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it's a vacation from taking care of your mental well-being. Hear straight from the students who have experienced it themselves, on how to balance dealing with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other mental health concerns while studying abroad.

Predeparture Preparations

"While the idea of studying abroad with a mental health issue can be scary, it hasn’t been as scary as it initially seems. There are plenty of resources that you can lean on and use when you need them, and no matter what happens while you’re abroad, there’s always someone there to be able to help you out with any problems that you have.”

- Briana M. (IES Abroad Rome | Penn State University) 


“I knew going in to study abroad that this would be difficult, so being a high D person, I tried to research what I needed to do so I could get all the facts before jumping in. And I found… nothing. No guide, no tips, no blogs… Nothing. So, I decided to make one for all of you people out there.”

- Allie W. (IES Abroad Rome | Indiana University)

"No matter where I go, the things I struggle with at home always seem to find me. And while this can feel discouraging at times, reminding myself that trying to run from them is as absurd as trying to run from my own dysfunctional knees, proves helpful in putting things in perspective."

- Audrey O. (IES Abroad Buenos Aires | University of Tulsa)

"The goal is to let myself have some bad moments, some anxious moments, some lonely moments. But what’s more is that I’ll tell myself over and over that they’re exactly that: moments. And for every less-than-perfect moment, it’s more than likely there’ll be 100 incredible, growing, memorable moments."

- Charlotte S. (IES Abroad Amsterdam | Ithaca College)

Managing your Mental Health While Abroad

“I think the biggest thing to remember when dealing with mental health struggles, in your home country or abroad, is that you are never alone. If you are really struggling, please talk to someone you trust or seek professional help. You and your mental health are worth it.”

- Becky V. (IES Abroad Freiburg | Susquehanna University)

“Instead of in your head, if you start to experience negative thoughts, pay attention to your environment. Being present and mindful of what's around you makes you less focused on what's happening in your head. New experiences are a great way to refocus that attention, and while abroad you will have a lot of them!”

– Gillian G. (IES Abroad Amsterdam | Sarah Lawrence College)

“There comes a point in everyone’s life when self-care becomes necessary, and if that happens to you while you’re away from home, all that means is that you’re going to come out of it more equipped to deal with everything else that life will bring in the future, and perhaps even a greater appreciation for the happier moments in everyday life.”

– Aiman K. (IES Abroad Vienna | University of Virginia)

"I started thinking about the composition of the waterfall: hundreds of millions of individual drops of water, of molecules and individual atoms and things even smaller than that, and it just made me feel insignificant and small—but again, in the best way. It made me realize that everything I obsess about—grades, what my fifth grade class thought of me, my conceptions of what success is or should look like—doesn’t matter."

– Louis H. (IES Abroad Quito | University of Rochester)

"It was not until after having been abroad for almost a week and hearing my friend talk about her study abroad anxiety that I, too, realized that my internal crisis had faded into the background. While all the questions I had about myself and my future had not been answered, I realized that a lot of my fears about studying abroad had been unfounded (they do, in fact, have peanut butter in Nice).”

- Maddy M. (IES Abroad Nice | The College of William & Mary)

Want to read more honest, unedited study abroad content from our students? Check out the IES Abroad blogs, where you can search by destinations, topics (including "mental health"), and more!

The health and overall wellness of our students is our top priority. Our Chicago-based Student Affairs team is available to talk about specific questions, concerns, and possible accommodations at any of our IES Abroad Centers around the globe at 800.995.2300.

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