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:
if you would like to speak to someone directly about your feelings, contact the Befrienders Worldwide with the Samaritans, who may be able to give you more immediate emotional support
For more advice, this NHS guidance is relevant wherever you are:
- Every Mind Matters: 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus
- Every Mind Matters: how to look after your mental wellbeing
- strength and flex exercises you can do anywhere
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:
- NHS Mental Health and Travel
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers travel and mental health resources
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.
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.
See also our coronavirus-related travel advice.
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.
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:
- Befrienders Worldwide with the Samaritans
- World Federation for Mental Health
- World Health Organization
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.
- Age UK
- Bipolar UK
- Mental Health Foundation
- Office of the Public Guardian
- Royal British Legion
- Scottish Association for Mental Health
- Shout: for support in a crisis
- The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA)
- Inspire Wellbeing (Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland Association for Mental Health)
- Time to Change Campaign
Data protection and the FCDO
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.