Diversity & Identity Abroad Mental Health

Mental health must also be considered as you plan to study abroad. Traveling to a new country and navigating the unknown without the physical proximity of the Penn community, friends, and family may be daunting. Students who have a history of mental health treatment are encouraged to consider a global opportunity, but it is important for students to know how to address mental health concerns and to maintain mental wellness while abroad. 

You may encounter culture shock, homesickness, and stressful situations, which may have different impacts on your mental health while abroad. It is crucial to know where to find support. Prior to departure, you can prepare through early communication with Student Health and Counseling, Disabilities Services, and/or a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager to help determine if a specific program is a good fit. While planning may require extra time upfront, Penn Abroad, Student Health and Counseling, and SDS can provide advice and support during the preparation process. See the Mental Health Abroad section within Penn Abroad’s Health and Safety webpage for detailed information on how to receive clinical services while abroad.

Questions to Consider

  • What are the methods of self-care, managing stress, and other mindfulness resources that can be used while abroad?

  • Who are some individuals who can check-in with me regularly while I am abroad?

  • How will I cope with possible “flare-ups” in my mental health?

  • What kind of housing situation is best suited for my mental well-being? (apartment, homestay, dorm, etc.)?

  • Does my host country or institution’s academic environment fit my learning style?

  • What are the cultural attitudes and laws surrounding mental health in my host country, and how might I respond to those differences?

  • What arrangements must I make for a service or emotional support animal?

  • Have I spoken with my doctor and/or mental health professional about being abroad?

  • Is my medication legal and available in my host country?

  • Are relevant medical professionals available in my host country? Will I need to meet with my current healthcare providers virtually while abroad?