Wellbeing and mental health if you're abroad during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Advice about how to look after your wellbeing and mental health if you cannot return to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This guide offers advice on how to look after your wellbeing and mental health during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It also includes information on how the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) may be able to help you, if you need help as a British national, if you cannot return to the UK from abroad.

See also the our general information on the broader consular assistance we can provide: Support for British nationals abroad: a guide.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Keep in regular contact with the people who usually support you; family, friends and colleagues, especially if you are self-isolating abroad.

If you feel that the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) are affecting your mental health, you can access a number of online resources to support your health and wellbeing:

For more advice, this NHS guidance is relevant wherever you are:

While you are abroad

Prioritise and maintain your mental health when travelling

Use these resources available to learn about how travel can impact your mental health:

Stay in touch with your family, friends and/or other support network

Stay in regular touch with your family and friends in the UK, especially if you are travelling alone or in a remote area. Although you may feel perfectly safe, people at home may worry if they do not hear from you and could report you missing.

If you need help abroad

Emergency contacts if something happens to you abroad

Travel Advice pages contain the contact details for the emergency services in most countries. In EU countries, you can phone 112 for the emergency services.

You can contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate, or the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London on 020 7008 1500.

How the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) can help your mental health and wellbeing

The FCDO can:

  • listen to you and help you consider your options
  • help you contact friends, family and/or other support network
  • talk to your travel representative or travel insurance company
  • try to help you find support and advice where you are and give information about local medical facilities
  • help you find information on any local charities or NGOs, or UK organisations you can contact from overseas, if you need emotional support
  • give you advice on your options if you need financial help when you are abroad
  • visit you in hospital or prison, if relevant, and if currently permitted within local health and safety guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • help medical staff overseas contact medical staff in the UK who may be able to provide advice on your medical history
  • raise any concerns about your treatment or welfare with the responsible authority (such as a hospital), if relevant

The FCDO cannot:

  • give you medical advice
  • buy or supply medication
  • withhold or remove a passport
  • require you to return to the UK
  • under normal circumstances pay for you to return to the UK
  • under normal circumstances pay for food, accommodation or medical bills
  • get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people

More information on what the FCDO can do more generally if you need assistance is in the Support for British nationals abroad: a guide.

Mental health hospitalisation abroad

Mental health law differs in each country. Local law will govern the area to which you have travelled. The laws or practices on mental health hospitalisation or detention may be different to that in the UK. For further information see our travel advice for people with mental health issues.

Sources of information and organisations that can help

These organisations may be able to offer assistance and information. Some can only help people who are in the UK. As independent organisations, the FCDO cannot be held responsible in any way for their advice and/or any decisions and outcomes that result from this.

Online information

There are a variety of online communities, counselling services and peer support groups that you can access while abroad. Other sources of support and information include:

International organisations

UK based organisations

The NHS list of mental health helplines has a list of organisations that can offer advice to those in the UK by phone. These organisations in the UK may be able to help, or family and friends in the UK.

Data protection and the FCDO

The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) control how personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government.

The FCDO’s privacy notice for consular services sets out how British embassies, high commissions and consulates overseas process personal data. The notice explains how the FCDO uses personal data, and your rights in relation to our use of your personal data.

Published 23 April 2020
Last updated 18 June 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added link to worldwide doctors and medical facilities lists

  2. First published.