Why Are Parents in the UK Choosing Overseas Programs for Mental Health Treatment?


There aren’t many things as hard as seeing your child struggle with their mental health. As a parent, you want nothing more than for them to recover, but you may feel at a loss over what to do. In many cases, the truth is that teens and young people cannot recover on their own, or even with your support. Many mental health conditions require professional treatment to help young people rediscover the well-being that they deserve.

When a young person commits to seeking mental health treatment, it’s a huge step forward. However, there are still some decisions to be made. There are many different options available for young people, including local residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and residential programs abroad. 

Today, many parents in the UK choose overseas programs for mental health treatment. Overseas programs take young people away from the stresses and rhythms of their daily life, giving them space to reconnect with themselves and build a better way forward. They’re also places of new experiences, excitement, and exploration that help young people shape their goals for the future. 

This blog outlines some of the benefits of overseas mental health treatment for young people and introduces the transformative experiences of The Wave Clinic’s specialist recovery programs in Malaysia.

Away from Stresses and Triggers

When a young person lives with a mental health condition, their emotions, thoughts, and well-being are often very sensitive to what goes on around them. Young people connect certain things in their environment with memories or feelings that can come back if they encounter the trigger again. They may also find some things in their daily lives very difficult to cope with, such as certain relationships, things at school, or interactions with food.

Stress and triggers can make the earlier stages of treatment more complicated. When young people are experiencing intense emotions, stress, or changing moods, it’s harder to find the space for introspection and healing. It can also make it more difficult for teens and adolescents to connect with therapists and stay focused on their recovery.

Overseas programs take young people away from the stress and triggers of their everyday lives, helping them to focus on the present and look towards the future. Programs abroad provide a physical distance from their daily routines that translate into a mental space from memories or feelings that are difficult to cope with. During therapy sessions, young people can address these experiences in a safe way that makes their recovery stronger when they return.

Breaking Cycles and Building New Patterns

Young people with mental health conditions sometimes find themselves caught in cycles of negative feelings and behaviours. Young people with behavioural problems can find themselves frequently in conflict with parents or other figures of authority. Teens and adolescents with eating disorders may control their eating to cope with certain types of stress in their daily lives or restrict themselves to rules about what they can and can’t eat.

Moving to a new environment can help young people to break out of these cycles and give them the space to build new ones. Overseas mental health treatment can offer a fresh start, where young people develop better relationships with themselves and others and healthier ways of living. With the support of experienced therapists, they can learn new thoughts and behavioural patterns that enable them to feel better, enjoy the things they love, and plan for the future.

Experiences and Discovery

Teenagers and adolescents living with mental health conditions often describe a disconnect from life. They may struggle to enjoy the activities that they used to love or be unclear about what their interests or hobbies are. They may also feel like they are going down a path that doesn’t fit their true self and start searching for something new.

Overseas programs offer the chance to have new and enriching experiences, surrounded by a different environment and culture. Experiences can help young people reconnect with their sense of adventure and the excitement of trying new things. Different cultures can show young people alternative ways of thinking and being that may help them see the world in a more positive way or inspire them to live their own life differently.

Lasting recovery is about planning for the future. When young people discover a path where they can thrive as their true selves, it becomes easier to find the strength and resilience to overcome challenges along the way. Moving to a new environment offers young people the space to try out new directions and plan a future where they can flourish.

Cost and Value

Every young person deserves effective mental health care. Unfortunately, financial concerns sometimes act as a barrier to young people receiving the support that they need.

Mental health treatment overseas often costs less than a similar program in the UK. Young people may be able to benefit from a level of expertise, staff experience, activities, and a living environment that they wouldn’t have access to close to home. Lower program costs can also enable young people to stay in treatment for longer, helping to build a secure recovery that lasts.

The Wave Clinic – Transformative Recovery Programs in Malaysia

The Wave Clinic is one of the few treatment centres in the world with highly specialised services for adolescents and young adults living with eating disorders, personality disorders, and other mental health conditions. We offer transformative recovery programs, supporting young people to rediscover their dreams – and develop the skills to follow them. 

Our centre is just outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, surrounded by incredible natural beauty. The Wave offers a safe haven of healing and sanctuary, where a tropical climate and year-round sunshine give space for adventures and experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. Some of our experiences include:

  • hiking and treks in the jungle
  • jungle skills, such as camping and nutrition
  • wild water adventures
  • team sports
  • making music
  • Muay Thai and Thai Chi
  • trampolining, archery, futsal, and tennis
  • teen’s kitchen
  • spa day
  • cooking garden

Accommodation and Facilities

Our centre is made up of several houses, specially designed for the needs of young people. Our houses include art rooms, dance studios, an indoor pool, a waterfall, a rooftop terrace, family therapy suites, and much more.

Young people stay in either single or shared rooms, depending on their needs. Each suite is spacious and luxurious with an en-suite bathroom and surrounded by gardens. Young people can decorate their rooms with items they bring from home.

Body Positive Spaces

Many young people with mental health disorders find mealtimes difficult. Our dining room offers a neutral, body-positive space, where we discourage talk of diets, body shape, or calories. Dieticians, nutritionists and the recovery coaching team offer support at mealtimes and work to develop individual meal plans for each young person that takes into account all of their needs. 

Our team prepare fresh and nutritious meals daily. At weekends, young people often join the preparation and cooking process, helping them to connect food with positive memories and emotions. In our cooking garden, young people can seed and care for the plants that they cook and share at meal times.

Creativity and Connection

Our centre has both indoor and outdoor spaces where young people can be creative, explore themselves, and connect with others. From art to sewing, drama, and dance, creative outlets are a way for young people to communicate emotions, express themselves, and share ideas.

In our Jungle School, young people learn to create in harmony with the natural environment, building shelters using ‘Bertram’ leaves and cooking with traditional bamboo. They’ll also work in teams to solve problems and puzzles as they make life-long memories.

Safety, Security, and Peace of Mind

We understand that it can be a nerve-wracking experience when your child is staying overseas. At The Wave, we’ll be there to ease your concerns and offer peace of mind. We’ll stay in touch about your child’s treatment and help you make arrangements to visit our centre. We also encourage families to involve themselves in treatment through family therapy and other interventions which are often pivotal to lasting recovery.

Contact Us Today

If you would like to find out more about The Wave’s programs or start the admissions process, contact us today. Our expert team is on hand to answer any questions you may have and support you through the next steps.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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