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What our plans cover

Mental health insurance cover
for expats

Life can be tough. Life abroad? Even tougher. Living and working in a different country means isolation from traditional support networks such as friends and family. Zoom is better than nothing, but it’s nowhere near physical proximity. That’s why our health plans give you benefits to help deal with expat life’s unseen challenges.

Sharon Clarkson

Medical Insurance Nurse

Lets get serious about mental health support

We take mental health seriously. So when you purchase international health insurance, you have lifetime cover up to US$100,000 on the Gold plan.

Whether you need admission to a mental health unit or consultations with a psychiatrist, you’ll a health plan with the cover you need. All our plans include:

    ✔️ Generous lifetime limits for mental health treatment
    ✔️ Cover for mental health medication
    ✔️ Counselling following cancer treatment

Expats belong to a high-risk category for mental health conditions

Many of us experience mental health problems in our lives, but this is particularly true for expats moving or living abroad. One study found that half of all expats were at higher risk of developing mental health issues, while our own research revealed 38% of expats said their mental health declined during the COVID-19 pandemic. All in all, the data show that expats are more at risk of experiencing mental health disorders than people living in their home countries.

Why do expats need mental health support?

Every expat’s experience is different, but some of the unique factors that increase an expat’s risk of mental health disorders include:

  • Expat stress—Living in a foreign country is a wonderful experience, but can also be a stress factor in itself. Adapting to language and cultural barriers, a lack of support from family and friends and homesickness can not only exacerbate the effects of existing stress, but become a cause of new stress in themselves.
  • Language barriers–Speaking to a mental health professional requires a near-perfect level of communication in order to accurately describe symptoms, experiences and concepts. Without a very high level of fluency, patients may not receive the quality of support they need.
  • Insecurity–Moving to a foreign country often feels highly precarious. It can be harder to access things such as social security and healthcare, and to find work, a place to live and to make essential purchases like a car. Living abroad may also cause someone to feel ‘out of touch’ with themselves while shedding their old identity and establishing a new one.
  • Discrimination–Sometimes, expats experience things that make them feel ostracised from their new societies or like second-class citizens. Harmful words, actions or policies can damage a person’s sense of self-worth and cause them to feel isolated, targeted and bullied. This can be especially true for women, LGBTQ+ people and people of colour.
  • Grief and bereavement–Going through a painful experience such as a divorce or loss of a loved one is always difficult, but it can feel all the more acute when you live in a foreign country, without the support of friends and family to help you cope.
Did you know that expats were high-risk during the pandemic?
Check out the results of our COVID-19 and expat mental health survey

What are the main types of mental health conditions?

These and other factors can either cause expats to experience mental health disorders for the first time, or they may exacerbate existing mental health issues. They may contribute to the development of conditions such as:

  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders (e.g., generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, anxiety attacks)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorders (e.g., anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive eating disorder)
  • Psychosis
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Dissociative disorder
  • Trauma, including post-traumatic and complex post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD/C-PTSD)
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Addiction
  • Relationship issues

There is no telling how the experience of moving to or living in another country can affect someone. Many expats actually experience an improvement in their mental health after relocating, so the experience is not universal. It’s up to you to be aware of and look after your own and your family’s mental health and seek professional attention when you feel you or they need it.

Planning to move countries?

Thinking about becoming an expat? Check our tips, articles and guides to help you plan your new adventure.

Departure date approaching?

Ready to move? We’ve got some advice on making the move to help you and your family have a smooth transition.

Already an expat?

Settling into expat life or a long-time expat? Learn how you and your family can settle in like locals and make the most of life in your new home.

How can expat health insurance provide mental health support?

While many countries ask expats to take out specialist global health insurance, it’s not because they require residents to have mental health cover. However, if you think you might need support for mental health while living abroad–and are worried about how you’ll manage the cost, especially if mental health support is only available privately–you may want to look into specialist global health insurance policies that include mental health support. These plans could help you to cover the cost of:

  • Consultations with mental health professionals, such as therapy, counselling or referrals
  • In-patient or out-patient treatment for mental health conditions

Fortunately, many international health insurance policies (including ours), feature mental health cover as standard. While it may not be compulsory, we recommend checking your policy to see if it includes coverage for mental health services.

Mental health benefit on our international health insurance plans

Bronze plan

SilverLite plan

Silver plan

Gold plan

Lifetime mental health treatment limit
No cover
In-patient and day-patient mental health treatment
Up to 30 days
No cover
Up to 30 days
Up to 30 days
Out-patient mental health treatment
10 consultations for post-hospital treatment
No cover
10 consultations
10 consultations
Out-patient mental health medication
US$500 for post-hospital treatment (20% co-insurance)
No cover
US$500 (20% co-insurance)
US$500 (20% co-insurance)

Mental health insurance cover can be especially important if you believe you or someone in your family may be vulnerable to experiencing mental health problems in the future, and that the chances of this happening may be exacerbated after relocating to a foreign country.

Furthermore, at William Russell, we guarantee three key points of difference when it comes to offering mental health support to our patients. These are:

  • Access to our 24-hour emergency medical Assistant Service which can provide consultation any time you need it
  • The choice of where to receive your treatment
  • Access to our worldwide network of hospitals and clinics

Mental health support for cancer diagnoses

Another reason expats seek mental health support is as a consequence of other episodes as a result of other medical conditions. That’s why, as a William Russell member, your plan includes many other opportunities to call on mental health support, especially at critical life moments.

Councelling following cancer treatment

For instance, we provide additional counselling consultations for expats who have received cancer treatment (where pre-authorised). This helps to cover up to 10 consultations, plus drugs prescribed by a medical doctor for patients who have received cancer treatment covered by the same plan. The counselling lifetime limits are as follows:

  • Bronze plan: US$500
  • SliverLite plan: US$500
  • Silver plan: US$500
  • Gold plan: US$750

Do I have cover for pre-existing mental health conditions?

Pre-existing mental health conditions are mental health diseases, illnesses or disorders that are present (whether diagnosed or not) before you purchase your health plan, for which:

  • you have received medication, advice or treatment; or
  • you have experienced symptoms.

You are not covered for treatment related to any pre-existing medical conditions, unless we have agreed otherwise.

How to make claim for mental health treatment

If you find yourself needing mental health support as an expat, here’s how to make a simple claim on your health plan.

Before you seek treatment, please let us know first. We call this ‘pre-authorisation’. We have a simple online form for pre-authorisation requests.

Pre-authorise your treatment

Once we’ve pre-authorised your mental health treatment (usually within 72 hours), we’ll call you to discuss your treatment options. We can point you in the direction of approved mental health professionals and treatment units near you.

If you need admission to a mental health unit of a hospital, we’ll settle your bills directly with the hospital on your behalf.

Ready to see prices? Get an online quote in under 2 minutes.

Important notes

  • A waiting period is the time you must be a member with William Russell before you can claim on a certain benefit. Most benefits on our plans don’t have a waiting period, but the benefits for mental health treatment have a waiting period of 12 months. That means you must be a member for 12 months before you can start to claim on these benefits.
  • You must seek our pre-authorisation before you receive treatment for out-patient treatment. There’s a simple online form that you need to fill out.
  • We only cover mental health treatment that you receive under the direct control of a registered psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor.
  • We don’t cover investigations or treatment related to phobias, hypnotherapy, post-natal depression, marriage/relationship counselling or psycho-geriatric conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.