Missing family members, friends, and their comfort zones are contributing factors which can lead many teenagers and female trailing spouses to be depressed according to a previous beijingkids article. Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health issues among these two expat groups. The causes are complex, but one common factor is moving.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which looked at the effects of moving one’s family around came to the startling conclusion that moving during childhood was directly tied to an increase in attempted suicide, violent criminality, psychiatric illness, substance misuse, and natural and unnatural deaths later in life. The study also found that children are most vulnerable at ages 12-14, with those who moved at 14 experiencing double the risk of suicide by middle age.
In this article on Alternate.org, it pointed out that the study’s one flaw was not factoring in environment and how that plays in childhood development and its implications for adulthood. For example, the act of moving alone should be put in a wider context of from where to where, such as from a violent area to a less violent area. There are positive effects of moving during childhood to a less violent area according to this research study from the United States.
For most expat families the one area of the study that stands outs out is this:
“Relocated adolescents often face a double stress of adapting to an alien environment, a new school, and building new friendships and social networks, while simultaneously coping with the fundamental biological and developmental transitions that their peers also experience.”
Moving countries isn’t easy on any family, from culture shock to missing home. In our 2016 Home and Relocation Guide, we look at tips on how to help kids transition to a new country, and you can read that article here. It is important to remember that change is always a challenge, but it can be handled and managed better to avoid negative effects.