U-center: Treatment for expats in the Netherlands with mental health disorders and addiction

U-center: Treatment for expats in the Netherlands with mental health disorders and addiction


Being an expat can be the biggest adventure of your life, but it can also be the biggest challenge. Besides the practical issues, such as finding a job, housing and requesting a work permit, expats also have to deal with the stress that living in a completely different country can cause. Moving abroad is a tremendous adjustment for expatriates and it is very common to experience isolation and a sense of helplessness, but these feelings should not last forever.

Psychological help in the Netherlands

Over 50% of expats worldwide experience mental health issues as a result of moving to another country. The issues mainly include fear, anxiety, loneliness and a feeling of isolation. When moving to another country, these feelings are common and part of the emotional process you face when adjusting to your expat life. But sometimes such feelings can persist for months or even years and require you to seek professional help.

As an expat in the Netherlands, it can be difficult to find the right treatment as most treatment options will be oriented towards Dutch patients. Explaining your mental health issues to a Dutch Doctor can be a challenge, especially if these issues are related to being an expat.

Receive personalised treatment at U-center International

If you have been struggling with psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorder, addiction, trauma or burnout, U-center provides an intensive programme to give you a new perspective on life.

U-center was founded in 2008 and is a psycho-therapeutic centre in Epen, the south of the Netherlands. In August this year, U-center opened a facility for expats and internationals.

U-center specialises in treating complex co-occurring conditions. At U-center, you receive a personalised programme of 7 weeks of inpatient treatment. Your treatment programme is designed in order to develop a healthy, meaningful and productive life, so that you can resume your role in society again as soon as possible, taking into account relationships and work.

A number of mental health professionals working at U-center International are either expats themselves or have experience with expats, which makes it easier to understand the underlying problems of the issues expats are facing.

The U-center treatment centre

U-center uses a holistic approach based on the biopsychosocial treatment model that aims to empower people in recovering and regaining control over their life again. “Previous expat clients appreciated this approach as it covered areas of their lives that are neglected”, according to Drs. Teryl Banseelal, psychologist at International mental health centre U-center. Treatment methods at U-center include cognitive behavioural therapy and schema therapy amongst many others.

There are various differences in treating Dutch nationals compared to expats, explains Banseelal. “This stems from factors such as lack of social support, demanding jobs and cultural differences, which can further exacerbate expats’ psychological complaints.” During treatment, clients work on a Personal Development Plan that enables them to incorporate what they have learnt and how to implement this into their daily routines, in order to prevent future relapses.

Advice for expats dealing with mental health problems

“It is crucial for expats to be aware of the changes that could potentially have an impact on their psychological wellbeing”, Banseelal explains. “When symptoms occur and persist and affect their daily functioning, it is important to seek help.”

But there are things you can do to improve your situation whilst living abroad, such as:

  • Build a support network that can help you in difficult moments
  • Communicate with those close to you about how you feel
  • Improve your coping skills to deal with difficult situations
  • Avoid using drugs and / or alcohol consumption, or try to reduce alcohol consumption
  • Stay open and ask for help when you need it.

When you experience psychological complaints, you may think that you have to deal with this on your own, says Banseelal. “On the contrary, you need to ask for help before symptoms get worse.” If you are unsure about where to start, you can ask your GP or an Expat centre in your area.

Treatment cost & insurance

U-center has contracts with most Dutch health insurances and with a number of international insurance companies. Please contact the communication centre to find out what could be applicable for you and what could be your possible personal contribution.

How can you apply to U-center?

If you think U-center can help you or you wish to have some more information about the offered treatments, please do not hesitate to contact the communication centre. You can contact them through the website by filling in one of the forms and someone will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can contact them by phone on 08002224446.



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