Mental Health Care While Abroad
If you need ongoing therapy for a psychiatric condition or eating disorder, you first need to inform the Study Abroad Office. Ask for help in identifying how that need will be met in your destination country. You will also need to clarify that your health insurance will cover such care. Making arrangements to meet with a specific provider and clarifying payment arrangements before you go is best. Even if you are uncertain whether you will need psychotherapy or psychiatric care while away, clarifying the resources available and your insurance coverage ahead of time is wise.
If you are currently on psychiatric medications, have your prescriber prescribe enough medicine for your entire stay abroad. Check the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheets to see if your medicine is legal in your destination country. In the event that it is not and as a safety measure, have your prescriber write a letter on letterhead stating that you are being prescribed this medicine. Carry medicine in the original pill bottles with the prescription label on the bottle.
Some stress is normal particularly as you are adjusting, but ongoing and increasing stress is not. You want to look for a change in your sleep pattern (more or less), change in appetite (more or less), trouble concentrating, worrying, isolating, increase in use of alcohol and loss of interest in enjoyable activities. If you notice any of these signs, seek help by reaching out to your program and asking for their support. If symptoms worsen, contact the Brandeis Study Abroad Office. If you are having thoughts of suicide, inform your program and ask to be taken to an emergency room.
Homesickness is normal and should subside as you adjust. It can be felt as anxiety, sadness and nervousness, as well as preoccupation with thoughts of home, family and friends; you're really missing your routine and sense of security. Homesickness can be helped by establishing a routine, staying engaged with your new program, doing something to feel closer to home, talking to someone who understands and remembering it will pass.
A regular sleep routine, eating well, exercising, maintaining a healthy schedule, exercising good judgment about the use of alcohol, utilizing supports and staying in touch with family and friends from home (only once a week) are all good coping strategies.
The Brandeis Counseling Center cannot provide therapeutic support to students who are not on campus. If you feel you need support, reach out to your program and ask them to assist in locating help.