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Travel & living abroad
Last updated at 14:08 (UK time) 2 Nov 2010

Mental health

A pair of clasped hands. Photo by Getty Images.

If you are experiencing difficulties with mental health issues abroad, your nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate may be able to offer assistance.

We can:

  • listen to you and help you look at your options
  • help you contact friends and family members if you want to
  • visit you in hospital or prison in line with our usual procedures
  • raise any concerns about your treatment or welfare with the responsible authority (such as a prison or hospital)
  • help overseas medical staff contact medical staff in the UK who may be able to provide advice on your medical history
  • give information about local medication suppliers
  • be available, as appropriate, to offer you assistance if you choose to remain overseas
  • liaise with your travel rep or travel insurance company, if you want us to

We cannot:

  • give advice on mental health issues
  • buy or supply medication
  • withhold or remove a passport
  • stop you from travelling abroad
  • require you to return to the UK
  • pay for you to return to the UK
  • pay for food, accommodation or medical bills
  • get you better treatment in hospital or prison than is given to local people

You should bear in mind that medical treatment is rarely free overseas and in many countries is very expensive. British Embassies cannot pay medical bills for you.

Before travelling, you should consider:

  • If you take prescribed medication, make sure you have a sufficient supply
    In some countries, your prescription medication might be banned, unavailable or available under a different name.
  • Get adequate travel insurance
    Insurance may cover costs of local medical treatment and possibly repatriation. However, it often does not cover pre-existing conditions, especially previous mental health diagnoses, and may exclude conditions related to drug/ alcohol abuse. See our travel insurance advice.
  • Take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
    Within the European Economic Area (EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland, the European Health Insurance Card entitles you to reduced-cost or free medical treatment which becomes necessary during an overseas trip, even for a chronic disease or pre-existing illness.

You can find more information, including contacts for mental health organisations in our leaflet No health without mental health.

If you need help

If you need help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad contact our Consular Assistance team on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours) or email

If you need help whilst overseas you should contact your nearest Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.

Useful contacts

International organisations:

European Federation of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI)

Worldwide Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (WFSAD)

Befrienders Worldwide with the Samaritans

Organisations in the UK:

0845 766 0163

0845 456 045

0845 767 8000

Mental Health Foundation
020 7803 1100

See also

Related documents

find an embassy