IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Travel Health Journal

IAMAT - The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers

News Release: Fit For Travel But What About Mental Health?

Niagara Falls, NY, January 25, 2011 – Travel is enjoyable, but there is no doubt that it can be stressful. Now travelers can find peace of mind with IAMAT’s new series on travel and mental health.

IAMAT (International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers) just released its ‘Travel and Mental Health’ guides to promote better mental health during travel. The easy-to-use checklists offer tips for coping with travel stress, advice for travelers with pre-existing mental illness and traveling with medications. Also included are health tips for travelers without a prior history of mental illness.

The guides are the first of their kind specifically aimed at travelers. International travel can put a strain on persons with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and psychotic disorders. Language barriers, culture shock, overcrowding, and unexpected situations can also tax travelers who do not suffer from mental illness. To help travelers plan a healthy trip, IAMAT’s series includes prevention information and advice on how to seek help during a psychiatric emergency abroad.

“Mental health is often overlooked as an issue affecting travelers, but travelers are telling us that it is a major concern for them,” says Assunta Uffer-Marcolongo, IAMAT’s president. “Studies show that psychiatric emergencies are the leading cause for air evacuations along with injuries and cardiovascular diseases,” adds Uffer-Marcolongo. In fact, twenty-one percent of IAMAT doctors seeing international travelers last year said they referred their patients to a mental health professional during their trip.

“IAMAT is to be commended for this innovative program. It identifies a long-hidden problem that all too often has muted the benefit of travel. It seeks to close a portion of a long-standing gap in mental health services worldwide, by highlighting the value of education, prevention and continuity of care,” says Dr. Melvyn Nizny, Adjunct Faculty Member of the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute whose independent practice includes advising the aviation industry.

Travelers often have difficulty accessing quality mental healthcare services abroad since discrimination and prejudice against mental illnesses persist. Negative attitudes toward psychiatric issues tend to determine the type of care a traveler will receive in another country.

IAMAT’s role is to help travelers prevent psychiatric emergencies and to give them the know-how to stay healthy during travel. Says Dr. Nizny, “The travel and mental health guides are one step in the direction of identifying mental health service providers across the globe so that intervention can be offered to travelers and decrease the chance of disrupted trips.”

IAMAT is a non-profit organization dedicated to travel health. Known as the travelers’ health advocate, IAMAT was established more than 50 years ago, in 1960. The organization provides comprehensive health education on vaccinations, disease risks, and food and water contamination for all countries. It also coordinates an international network of doctors committed to treating sick travelers. With the generous support of its donors, IAMAT awards scholarships to doctors and nurses from developing countries to study and train in travel medicine. IAMAT is a registered charity in the USA (501(c)3 non-profit) and Canada.

Contact information:
Nadia Sallese
IAMAT, Communications
716 754 4883 (USA)
416 652 0137 (Canada)


Dr. Melvyn Nizny MD, DLF
Adjunct Faculty Member of the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute
General, Occupational, and Forensic Psychiatrist

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