Lifestyle Guides

Travelling with a mental illness

We provide advice for you and your family to help make the most of your trip

Man-travelling

Travelling with a mental health condition

Mental health is one of the leading causes of ill health in travellers and the prospect of a mental health crisis in unfamiliar surroundings can put a lot of people off travelling, so it’s important you look after your mental wellbeing just as you would your physical wellbeing.

According to the Association of British Insurers some of the most common medical conditions are:

  • Low mood and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anorexia and Bulimia
  • Panic attacks
  • Schizophrenia

Mental health doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying a trip away, as long as you plan ahead so you’re well prepared should the worst happen.

Before travel

Make sure you have enough medication to last the whole trip and, if possible, bring extra just in case any medication is lost or stolen. Ask for a letter from your doctor detailing your diagnosis and medications for you to present to any psychiatric services if necessary.

Keep up to date details for your emergency contacts and be sure to fill them in in the back of your passport. It’s also a good idea to keep contact details for any friends or family you want to be informed should your health deteriorate at any point during your trip. 

Try to make a note of the location of any medical facilities in the area you’re visiting and how to access them, as having this information to hand could save valuable time if you need them.

During travel

To avoid any unnecessary stress or anxiety try to maintain a regular routine and follow an itinerary. This will help keep surprises to a minimum and help you to take your prescribed medications at the correct times. 

If you have any dietary requirements make sure you plan your meals ahead of time and stay hydrated. It’s also important to get plenty of rest and you may find arranging regular calls with friends and family will help keep a sense a normality, especially if you’re travelling alone.

If at any point you start to struggle, seek help early. The sooner you can deal with your mental health issue, the less likely it is to escalate into a crisis.

Travel insurance and mental health

Travel insurance covers you for inconvenient or stressful situations that can happen when abroad, such as theft of personal belongings or accidental injury. You can buy travel insurance to cover you and others for unexpected medical treatment expenses and unforeseen circumstances, such as cancellations.

Having the right travel insurance in place when travelling with a mental illness can be a great support and keep you reassured should anything stressful occur. When applying with us we’ll treat your mental health the same as your physical health when assessing your application. 

We use several sources to assess the insurance risk and decide whether we can offer you an insurance quote. These include:

  • Your application form
  • Your medical history
  • Historical data and research

In some cases, there may be an increased premium to continue your cover or we may be unable to offer insurance.

We’ll advise if there are any exclusions to your policy, or if we are unable to offer insurance at this time.

To learn more about mental health and travel insurance, you can visit the following websites:

The Association of British Insurers

Mind

Mental Health UK - Mental Health and Insurance guide

Answering questions about my mental health condition

When buying your travel insurance, it’s important that you tell us about any mental health or pre-existing medical conditions. Pre-existing medical conditions are any physical or mental illness or condition that was known and existed before buying your insurance.

Before we give you a quote, you’ll be asked a series of questions about your medical history depending on the nature of the medical condition you may have. 

Some of the questions you may be asked are:

  • Do you also have anxiety, or have you been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder?
  • Have you been referred to a psychiatrist for any of these conditions within the last 2 years?
  • How many hospital admissions have you had for these conditions in the last 2 years?
  • Have you had a compulsory admission to hospital as a result of these conditions?
  • Are you currently taking medication or receiving any therapy to treat this condition?
  • Are you currently taking medication or receiving psychological treatment for this condition?
  • Have you been advised to take medication continuously for the last 2 years?
  • Are you currently recommended to see a counsellor, psychiatrist, or psychologist for this condition?

We have provided some guidance on some terms used in the medical questions to help you complete your application with us.

Disorder: A physical or mental conditions that disturbs the normal functioning of your everyday activities and day to day life.

Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are not the same as a medically qualified doctor who has chosen to specialise in psychiatry and works in a hospital setting to treat mental health conditions. They can prescribe medication as well as recommend other forms of treatment.

Hospital Admission: A hospital admission is where a person is required to have an overnight stay in a hospital bed and had to be discharged by a medical professional.

Compulsory admission: Compulsory admission is when it’s necessary admit a person to hospital as a patient against their wishes under various sections of the 1983 Mental Health Act. This is also known as 'being sectioned' or 'sectioning'.

Therapy: Therapy, also called psychotherapy or counselling, is the process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviours, beliefs, feelings, and/or relationship issues.

Treatment: Medical treatment by a medical professional can include involve taking prescription medication, therapy or investigation and procedures.

Continuously: Means something without interruption or gaps. In travel insurance, this can include being prescribed monthly repeat medication by your doctor or attending regular therapy sessions.

Counsellor: A therapist who provides talking therapy (counselling) who listens to you and helps find ways to deal with emotional issues.

Psychologist: Clinical psychologists are not the same as Psychiatrists. Psychologists help treat people with psychological distress or behavioural problems which disrupt their everyday functioning and wellbeing.

If your circumstances change after you've bought travel insurance, you’ll need to let your insurer know so they can adjust your policy to fit your needs. Informing your insurer of changes to your health before you travel is vital, as any incorrect information could invalidate your cover and affect future claims.

You're not covered if you fail to take any required medications or inoculations, or if you've been told not to travel by a medical professional. 

Mental health support services

If you do find yourself struggling, there are a number of support services within the UK that you can turn to for help and assistance.

The NHS operate urgent mental health helplines, which are available in most areas of England to people of all ages. People can receive 24-hour advice and support for themselves, their children, parents, or anyone they may care about. 

You can also contact crisis teams or the Samaritans. Crisis teams are available in most UK areas.  They can support people who are having a mental health crisis in the community and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You can also find advice from organisations such as Mind, Beat, Shout and Anxiety UK.

Contact us

If you would like some more help with completing your quote you can contact us.

If you are looking to travel taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy, it will help give you peace of mind that you are protected, whatever may happen. Leaving you to make the most out of your trip.

Alternative Insurance providers

If, for any reason we are unable to offer insurance, there are a number of alternatives available. The Moneyhelper travel insurance directory may be able to help. This directory has a panel of travel insurance providers who specialise in covering serious medical conditions.

Alternatively, you can call them on 0800 138 7777. (Monday to Friday 8:00-18:00, closed on Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays.)

5 Star Defaqto rated Platinum Level Travel Insurance

marin_tracker