Identity-Based Resources for Study Abroad: Mental Health and Self-Care​

Costa Rica | photo by Sammi Leggott, ’24

When you study or travel abroad, the first thing you unpack is yourself. Many students may go into the study abroad process believing that going to another country can help them “escape” problems they have at home. However, research shows that study and travel abroad can often exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues or cause stress to show up in new ways.

Picture of calm water at sunset.
Costa Rica | photo by Sammi Leggott, ’24

Traveling abroad can be an amazing opportunity to learn more about the world and yourself. But it’s important to recognize that you are bringing your lived experiences with you to your host country while also adjusting to a new culture, schedule, and peer group. The OIP is here to help you be successful in your study abroad experience and proactively prepare for different sources of stress you may encounter.

Time and time again, experience has shown that students who share mental health struggles and concerns with the OIP and their program faculty have high rates of success while abroad. Please consider connecting with our office to discuss your plan to exercise good mental health habits and self-care while abroad. We are happy to share resources and support you as you prepare for your study abroad experience.

If you see a therapist or psychiatrist regularly, connect with them early on in your study abroad process to ask if they are able to continue seeing you virtually while you’re abroad or if you will need to explore other options. Additionally, it is important to disclose prescribed medications to the OIP in the post-acceptance process so that we may advise you appropriately about traveling with these medications. 

Doing research on your own prior to departure is another important step in your mental health and study abroad journey. The resources shared here are only a sample of the many wonderful stories, tips, and articles about mental health and study abroad that exist and can be found with a quick Google search.

Questions to Consider

  • How do I react to and cope with stress?
  • How do I manage discomfort?
  • What strategies can I use to cope with the challenges and stress during my program?
  • What forms of self-care keep me grounded here at home? How might I continue those habits abroad?
  • If I have an existing relationship with a counselor or therapist, can they continue to counsel me abroad? If not, what is my plan while abroad?
  • What steps can I take prior to departure to support my mental health?
  • How might traveling abroad exacerbate my existing mental health challenges or stress?
  • What predominant opinions or stigmas exist around mental health in my host country?