A company has a Duty of Care for its employees who travel, but the travelers themselves can take action to ensure they have a safe and productive trip.

In part two of our Supporting Mental Health blog post series, we asked Dr. Mark Fischer, Regional Medical Director of the Philadelphia Assistance Center at International SOS, how the traveler can mitigate the risk of exacerbating mental health conditions while traveling.

Q: How should a traveler with a history of mental health issues prepare for a trip to minimize risk?

Dr. Fischer: Travelers should prepare in advance – research the destination and understand the level of care where they are going. What can you expect if you do have problems with your medical condition? Who do you call for further evaluation? Do you have other ways of communicating besides calling should you need assistance? This is important information to have with you.

If a traveler takes medication, they should be sure to bring enough – plus one week extra – in case of travel delays, cancellations, or other unplanned travel changes. Medicine should be carried on their person in its original packaging, rather than in checked baggage, to ensure it’s not lost if checked bags are. We recommend bringing a copy of the prescription script. Also, make sure that the medication is legal in the countries being traveled to, and travelers should bring a note from their health care provider stating the need for the medication on the provider’s letterhead.

If traveling for an extended period, confirm that the medication is readily available at the destination and prepare for that in advance. International SOS provides country guides which have detailed information, plus 24/7 support for clients. A frequent question from travelers who call us are on the medications that they are bringing to their destination and whether they can get it in-country if needed.

Q: For those who have anxiety and depression, what are some ways to cope while traveling?

If a traveler has an underlying condition, they should be consistent with any plan set by their provider, especially while traveling. In addition, they can:

  • Practice meditation or use relaxation techniques during the trip
  • Maintain a good exercise regimen and sleep schedule
  • Try to maintain a healthy diet
  • Create a balanced schedule and plan for regular breaks
  • Establish healthy boundaries
  • Avoid overcommitting
  • Have plans in place for a potential exacerbation; this will make the traveler feels empowered and prepared.
  • Continue to take any medications as prescribed: necessary adjustments should be discussed with their doctor before travel to ensure proper affect during travel.

Q: How can travelers combat Covid-related anxiety when traveling?

First and foremost, prevention is very important. My number one recommendation is to be fully vaccinated and get the booster(s) when eligible. But we also know that you can do that and still get Covid. So, travelers need to understand the signs and symptoms of Covid and follow the local public health guidelines for testing and quarantines. Know who to call if you have issues.

About the Author:

Mark B. Fischer, M.D., Regional Medical Director Assistance, Americas Region, is responsible for providing medical assistance and coordination of medical care to patients traveling and living abroad.

Dr. Fischer started with International SOS in 2012, providing international medical case management, medical transportation and health risk mitigation. Dr. Fischer has been the medical escalation point for oversight and case management, for over 2000 clients worldwide.