One of the most important things to do when back in the UK is to arrange a thorough healthcheck. While we’re abroad, many of us are exposed to germs and diseases we didn’t grow up with, so it’s good to check that nothing is seriously wrong.
First visit your doctor, and explain that you’ve been living abroad. You might as well get as many of the checks as you can courtesy of your state Health Department. If you’re a UK citizen, you may find that your GP or hospital thinks you’re not entitled to free treatment if you’ve been living abroad, but as a mission worker you are specifically exempted from the usual provisions. This is made clear in Regulation 20 of the NHS Guidance Document. Click here and scroll to page 34 to find this. However all this is set to change in April 2015 when new cost-recovery regulations come into place. You can read more about these on the Global Connections website.
There are also many specialist organisations which cater specifically for mission workers, such as Healthlink 360 and Interhealth. Their services may not seem cheap, but they are extremely thorough and their staff are highly knowledgeable. They have a good understanding of the sorts of diseases you can pick up abroad and know what to look out for. In addition to the purely medical services, they also provide debriefing and psychological checks, to make sure that you’re not suffering adverse mental or emotional effects of your time abroad.
Many people find that after a significant time abroad they are suffering from the physical effects of long-term stress. A full debrief is often the first step to recognising some of these issues. Follow up with an experienced church leader, mission rep or a qualified counsellor can help unpack some of the issues arising from such situations and is highly recommended. Some of the organisations that offer counselling can be found on Oscar.
Syzygy offers a debriefing service to mission workers and you can talk to us about this by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also happy to put you in touch with counsellors whom we can recommend.