While traveling is definitely a fun and exciting experience, there are a number of stressors everyone encounters when studying while traveling and, sometimes, acclimating to a new culture and way of life. Being prepared for this reality, and knowing where to ask for help when or if you need it is important. Duke Immerse believes that experiential education opportunities should be accessible to all students, including those who are managing mental health concerns.
It is important to disclose to Duke Immerse staff or faculty well before departure if you are currently experiencing or have experienced mental health issues in the recent past. Duke Immerse can support you and help you plan to best care for yourself while away.
It’s helpful to anticipate possible stressors and develop plans to address them before you leave. We suggest you talk to your healthcare provider before the travel portions of the program. Make sure you obtain an adequate supply of any medication you may need and a copy of the prescription. We also suggest discussing a communication plan with your healthcare provider in case medication changes are necessary while you are away.
You may not have access to your support system during your program, so think about who you may seek support from while you are away. Create a communication plan outlining how to connect with family and friends while away.
New environments and daily routines, can spark new anxiety or exacerbate existing conditions. It is good to maintain as many of your healthy habits as possible while traveling for your Immerse, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, eating healthy, etc. Continue to take your medication(s) as prescribed while traveling. If you choose to drink alcohol, be mindful of and limit your use.
Reach out to your support system, but don’t rely solely on friends and family back home. Know that it’s ok to talk to your program instructor and support staff, as well as classmates, for help navigating travel-related stress. Many of your friends on your program may be going through a similar experience.