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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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1040 Abroad

Annual Survey Highlights Expat Family Wellbeing

The study, by insurance firm Aetna, found that while expats have faced increased mental health challenges, the pandemic has raised awareness of healthy lifestyle needs

Published on January 7, 2021

Mother Daughter

An annual survey, which looks at the health and well-being of expat families, has highlighted how international lifestyles have been challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey, conducted by health insurance firm Aetna, asked 1000 expats living in the US, UK, Singapore and the UAE about their experiences of the pandemic, with the hope of understanding how expat families can better protect their physical and mental health.

Among the key findings, Aetna reported that one third of expats are fearful of accessing health services amid the pandemic, while 78.3% of respondents said the pandemic has caused them to experience sleep problems. Most expat children described feeling anxious, lonely or worried during the year, and almost half of expats said they rethink living abroad in order to access better health care services. On a positive note, 82% of respondents said they have developed healthier habits during 2020.

Although most expats are used to living at a distance from family and friends, many reported that the events of 2020 have made them feel more homesick. 59.9% of expats said they were rethinking living abroad due to the coronavirus, while another survey conducted by the firm had previously found that 56.3% of expats would prefer to be in their own country during the pandemic.

One of the positive outcomes of the survey, however, suggests that the pandemic has made expats more aware of their health and well-being, with over 60 percent saying that this increased awareness has led them to lead healthier lifestyles.

In order to address the findings of the study, Aetna have pointed out three key pieces of advice they recommend. They say that expats should:

• seek medical attention when they need it but should consider virtual health services to address their concerns around accessing care and attending medical appointments in person;

• use the pandemic as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes, and try to balance emotional, mental and physical well-being and lifestyle changes to help make long-lasting improvements to their health outcomes;

• and practice mindfulness to ease worries, protect mental health and improve sleep.

For the full study and more insights, go to www.aetnainternational.com/en/about-us/explore/living-abroad/expatriate-life/expat-family-wellness-survey-2020.html

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