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Young Expats Struggling the most with Mental Health – Is Social Media the Cause?

Research by AXA has revealed that as many as two in five (41%) young expats aged 18-24 are negatively impacted mentally by social media and tech addiction.

AXA - Global Healthcare has reviewed the Mind Health Index, looking at how young expats are affected by social media. It found that those who report a negative impact from social media were also more likely to feel lonely, have a negative body image, feel uncertain about their future, and struggle with self-acceptance. For example, almost two thirds (60%) of young expats who report a negative mental impact from social media and tech addiction also report a negative body image.

In stark contrast, just one in ten (12%) expats aged 65-74, feel that social media negatively impacts their mental health.

Samantha O’Donovan, Chief People Officer at AXA - Global Healthcare, says, “Social media has so many benefits to young expats – it’s a way of keeping in touch with family and friends, keeping up with trends and popular culture, and can even be used to make professional connections and find work. But, while it has its uses, you can always have too much of a good thing. Social media often causes us to make comparisons to our peers and aspire to unattainable lifestyles, and the younger generations are more exposed to this than anyone else, hence its significant impact on their overall mental health.”

The research also reveals that only 10% of young expats are ‘flourishing’ (with the best mental health scores), while more than half (55%) are languishing or struggling – the lowest outcomes in AXA’s Index.

18-24-year-old expats are also significantly impacted by mental health conditions, with over two thirds (71%) struggling with stress, one in three (30%) suffering with depression, and 16% suffering with anxiety.

At the other end of the age scale, the oldest group sampled (65-74) report their mental health much more positively, with almost half (49%) ‘flourishing’, and only one in five (20%) struggling or languishing.

The number of older expats experiencing mental health conditions is much lower, with only one third (31%) struggling with stress, fewer than one in 10 (9%) suffering with depression and just 2% suffering with anxiety.

Sam continues, “There are a number of reasons that we see that mental health is a more prevalent issue in young people. Social media is one contributor, but so is the rising cost of living, among other things. Within the expat population, young professionals may feel more isolated working in a different country away from friends and family, compared to the older generation who may have brought more established, trailing families along for the journey.

 “Regardless of your age, professional status, and location, it’s vital that you take proactive steps to manage your mental health and look after yourself. Our Mind Health service is designed to provide customers with support from a fully qualified psychologist, wherever you are in the world, via phone and video calls. Taking on life’s challenges doesn’t need to be a solo feat.”

To read the full report, visit: https://www.axa.com/en/about-us/mind-health-report

XA’s Mind Health Index are based on a survey conducted in 16 countries and territories: Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and US. The following countries took part in the survey for the first time in 2022: Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and US. All fieldwork was carried out independently by Ipsos, based on representative samples, reflecting gender, age, region, occupation and market size. A total of 2,000 respondents were surveyed in most countries or territories (30,636 in total), the exceptions being Thailand and Philippines, where 1,000 were surveyed. Respondents were surveyed through the Ipsos Access Panel. The AXA survey took place from September 5th to October 5th, though further research was carried out between October 26th and November 1st to include more data from under-represented population groups.

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