Travelling with a mental health condition

Article contents

man walking on a beach with a backpack on

The NHS found that one in four adults will experience some kind of mental illness in their lifetime.

When travelling, looking after your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You must also find travel insurance that covers you properly if you need to make a claim.

How to prepare for travel with a mental illness

Before you head off on holiday, take these steps to prepare:

  • make sure you have enough medication to last the whole trip – if possible, bring extra in case it’s lost or stolen
  • ask for a letter from your doctor explaining your diagnosis and medications – so you can show it to any medical or psychiatric services if necessary
  • keep up-to-date details for your emergency contacts in your passport –have the contact details ready for any friends or family you want to be informed if you have a medical emergency

Taking care of your mental health while travelling

There are a few things you can do to take care of yourself while travelling:

  • try to keep a routine – this will help to take your prescribed medications at the correct times too
  • plan your meals ahead of time – especially if you have any dietary requirements
  • stay hydrated and get plenty of rest – this will help maintain your energy levels
  • arrange regular phone calls with friends and family – especially if you’re travelling alone

If you start to struggle, seek help quickly. The sooner you deal with the issue, the less likely it is to escalate.

Travel insurance and mental health conditions

Travel insurance covers you for inconvenient and stressful situations that can happen abroad.

This can include theft of personal belongings, accidental injury, or delayed flights. It also can cover for you unexpected medical treatment if you need it.


What do I need to tell my insurer about my condition?

When buying your travel insurance, you’ll need to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions you might have or ever had. This means any physical or mental illness that was known to you before buying your policy.

Before giving you a quote, most insurers will ask you questions about your health. You’ll need to let us know about:

  • any mental health condition you’ve ever had or been treated for
  • advice, treatment or prescriptions you’ve received
  • any ongoing investigation into your health
  • if you’re waiting for a diagnosis
  • if you’re on a waiting list for inpatient treatment

This information is confidential: it’s just so we can get you the right cover. If you don’t disclose an illness which you later need to claim for, this will invalidate your insurance.

You need to let your insurer know about any changes to your health between buying your policy and going on holiday, if there are any.

It’s important to note that you won’t be covered if you don’t take your required medications or have been told not to travel by a medical professional. Read more about travelling with medicine here

If you’d like help with completing your quote, you can contact us.


Medical terms you need to know

We’ve provided some definitions for some of the terms you might see in the medical questions asked when buying travel insurance:

Disorder: a physical or mental condition that disturbs the normal functioning of your day-to-day life.

Hospital admission: when a person is required to have an overnight stay in a hospital bed and has to be discharged by a medical professional.

Compulsory admission: when a person is admitted to a hospital against their wishes under the 1983 Mental Health Act. This is also known as being sectioned.

Therapy: meeting with a therapist or counsellor to treat mental conditions through communication.  

Treatment: this can involve taking prescription medication, therapy, investigation into your health and medical procedures.

Continuously: something without interruption or gaps. In insurance, this includes being prescribed monthly repeat prescriptions by your doctor or attending regular therapy sessions.

Counsellor: someone who provides talking therapy and helps find ways to deal with emotional issues.

Psychologist: clinical psychologists are not the same as psychiatrists. Psychologists study the human mind and behaviours and offer treatment for mental, emotional and behavioural disorders.

Psychiatrist: psychiatrists are not the same as psychologists. Psychiatrists are medically qualified doctors who specialise in diagnosing and treating people with mental health conditions. They can prescribe medication and recommend other forms of treatment.

Travel insurance providers 

If, for any reason, we cannot offer insurance, many alternatives are available. The MoneyHelper travel insurance 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.)

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

Mental health support services

There are many support services that you can use:

5 Star Defaqto rated Platinum Level Travel Insurance