Mental Health Abroad

Participating in a global learning activity opens up the possibility of an exciting and enriching experience. It is crucial to weigh the possible effect on your mental health when deciding whether or not this is the right activity for you. This is true for all students, but maybe even more so for those who have had or are currently dealing with a mental health issue.

Taking part in an international program involves transitions that can cause stress and anxiety. Moreover, you may not be able to access the same variety of support services available to you here in Kingston and at Queen's while you are away. However, with diligent and early preparation, we hope you will be able to put yourself in the best place possible to successfully manage the stress of going abroad.

  • We encourage you to research what access you will have to necessary local resources and support during your time outside Canada and your home country.
  • You may wish to have a mental health management plan which includes effective coping mechanisms, a treatment plan and a crisis plan. Student Wellness Services can help you do this.
  • What is the legality of prescription medicines in the destination country?
  • What academic considerations are given to students regarding mental health by the host university.

  • What are the local resources for both routine and emergency mental health issues that I can access during my time abroad?
  • What is my exchange school’s policy on providing academic consideration in case of a mental health emergency?
  • How will I manage my mental health effectively while on exchange?
  • Am I able to recognize signs of mental distress?
  • What does homesickness feel like and what can I do about it?

  • If you take prescriptions, research if your prescription medicine is legal in your destination country and make sure you have enough to last throughout the entire stay. It is illegal to have medication sent abroad to you via postal mail.
  • To manage your mental health, adapt some coping mechanisms such as exercising, eating well, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, being engaged in activities, using available supports and staying in touch with family and friends.
  • To help overcome homesickness, get involved with others, put yourself in new situations, maintain a routine, stay engaged with your new program, do something to feel closer to home, talk to someone who understands, and remember this feeling is not permanent and you can take actions to help it pass.
  • All students going on exchange/study abroad are advised to register for ISOS which provides students with access to up to 6 sessions of phone counselling for free. Students can proactively set up a call with a counsellor in advance of travel to ensure a counselling session is scheduled upon arrival at the destination country.
  • Ultimately, you are the best judge of what is working for you and what is not. If you need to leave your study abroad program, it is ok to do that. We encourage you to reach out to mental health supports to help you as you transition out of your experience, as well as your academic advisor to discuss any academic implications.