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Understanding the Mental Health Issues of International Students

A person sitting and holding a red paper in front of his face, with a sad face drawn on it, representing mental health issues of international students.

Moving abroad for college is a common occurrence in many countries. Students often don't have quality education in their country or want to move somewhere where education is more affordable. However, living and studying in a foreign country is not the same for everyone. Some students assimilate with the new environment faster, while others struggle with many problems. Before you decide to move abroad for college or send your kids to one, let's talk about the importance of understanding the mental health issues of international students.

The language barrier

The language barrier represents one of the most common problems of people who move abroad, be it for college, work, or any other reason. While some love to learn new languages and are pretty good at that, a substantial number of people are having a lot of difficulties.

It gets even more troublesome if a person moves to a country where they don't have any relatives or people they know. They are all on their own, with no help. Just speaking a foreign language is hard, and it gets even more tricky if you have to study a subject in a foreign language.

This problem can cause depression and isolation, as well as social awkwardness that may lead to issues with social behavior. It is important that the student finds good friends to help them tackle the language barrier and get used to new classes. Furthermore, constant support from their family in overcoming this obstacle is a must.

Getting used to a different cultural lifestyle

Cultural differences between countries, nations, and religions can be so massive that, for some people, it is not possible to get used to such a different lifestyle. If you are moving to a foreign country for college, make sure to understand their culture before the relocation fully.

It is so easy to make a mistake in social interactions and accidentally offend your host or even your friends. Often people won't even tell you when you have made a mistake, which is even more troublesome because you will repeat it.

Besides these fundamental cultural differences, the overall lifestyle could also be different. Some nationalities may seem colder in terms of social relations between people. It may be a problem for someone more open to strangers. Furthermore, local people may be shy or even socially awkward in situations that you would find completely normal.

Mental health issues of international students often originate because of these pivotal differences.

Having too high expectations may cause mental problems

The sole idea of moving abroad for college is to get a better and more affordable education, so you could build a career and have a successful life. While this goal is worth every praise, it is crucial to remember that having too high expectations can cause stress.

People who cannot deal with failure can quickly lose hope, confidence or even fall into a state of depression. Every student must set their own reachable goals, be realistic about them, and pace themselves.

Problems at home

When you are far away from home, you may feel disconnected from life. Furthermore, if someone from your family has an issue or an illness, you cannot help them.

These types of problems that happen at home may cause a loss of concentration and confidence. Consequently, that will affect students' grades and social and private life. It is crucial to find some productivity tips to help deal with these problems.

Getting sick in a foreign country

Another common problem that may lead to mental health issues is if they get sick for a longer period of time. Without having someone to help you out, you have to treat yourself and stay home alone. Especially now, when COVID-19 sets the social distancing rules, there is an increased fear of getting infected.

The most common mental health issues of international students

Now that we understand some of the causes of international students' mental health issues, let's see their consequences.

The loss of focus, concentration, and motivation

Students need to motivate themselves to learn and get good grades. If they lose focus, their marks will go down, and it will be hard to catch up. Consequently, they will lose motivation to fight back and get up on their feet.

Depression and loneliness

By far, two of the most common mental health issues, not only for international students but in general, are depression and loneliness. When you are far away from home, surrounded by a language you don't understand, and struggling with fitting in, you will feel lonely or even depressed.

Mood swings

When experiencing the situations mentioned above, it is common to have mood swings from time to time. You may switch from happiness to sadness or feel empty at times. It is crucial to understand that these mood swings are perfectly normal. As soon as you accept that, you will start to fight back.

How can international students deal with mental health issues?

The number one way to deal with mental health issues is to find people to talk to. Speak with family members, friends back home, or find a therapist. There is no shame in talking to a professional and admitting you have problems.

Furthermore, it is a good idea to pick your moving destination carefully. If you don't think you will fit nicely in one place, choose another. For example, LA is becoming one of the most popular destinations for students. You can easily find friends and different student communities.

Key takeaways

We are at the end of this informative piece and the key takeaways are:

  • it is crucial to recognize and accept problematic situations in your life;
  • do not lose hope even if the situation looks unbearable;
  • find friends to help you out in the transitional period;
  • do not forget to communicate with friends and family back home daily;
  • if necessary, speak to a professional therapist.

By understanding these mental health issues of international students, you will be able to tackle any problem life throws at you.


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