Greenheart: Recognizing the Importance of Mental Health

Mental health conditions are increasing worldwide according to the World Health Organization, especially among young adults. Greenheart sees this firsthand as more and more applicants are making us aware of their own previous mental health considerations when applying for exchange programs. We recognize just how important mental health care is– particularly when travelling aboard.

Travel can be stressful, especially the longer-term immersive type of travel we have in cultural exchange programs. Increased anxiety and stress may trigger mental health challenges and make it more difficult to assimilate and to experience a successful program.  That is not to say that a candidate who has experienced mental health concerns in the past should be deemed ineligible for cultural exchange programs, rather it means that organizations like ours must be better prepared to address these issues and to help improve psychological resilience among our travelers.

While there is always room for further development, Greenheart has committed to help our participant, stakeholders, and staff be better prepared for mental health considerations by offering the following:

  • A licensed counselor on staff, working alongside our program support staff
  • Mental health/counseling services for our high school participants through our insurance provider
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) as part of our benefits package for staff
  • Support for Greenheart Travel’s outbound travelers by setting expectations and offering tips for care along the way, though ultimately program acceptance is up to our in-country partners
  • Best practices and Mental Health Care Training for frontline staff
  • A growing list of resources available to staff and stakeholders including “tips for your travels”, addressing mental health awareness, as well as links to relevant articles published by other exchange industry organizations.

As facilitators of cultural exchange programs, it is essential that Greenheart continue to focus on training our staff members and preparing our travelers, hosts, and partners. Greenheart is committed to evolving our perspective and processes as part of this much-needed normalization of mental health awareness taking place around the planet. 

By: Daniel Ebert, President, Greenheart International

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