Singapore maids trained to be counsellors

by L&D13 Apr 2016
More than one in five maids polled in Singapore from Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar has been found to be suffering psychological distress, according to a study last year by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home).

In order to reverse this trend, maids in Singapore are being trained to recognise signs of mental stress in their peers and to offer help where necessary.

The training is designed to improve mental health support for foreign domestic workers who have mental stress symptoms that go unidentified, or do not know where to go for help.

The initiative came about through the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Home, a migrant worker welfare group.

The training involves the participants learning to spot symptoms of depression (such as being withdrawn and losing sleep).

One of the ways they are taught to respond is by planning activities they enjoy to cheer them up.

However, if the situation becomes worse and the person talks about suicide, the trainees know it is time to dial professional help.

One participant, Robina Lavato, said she signed up to learn more about helping her peers, particularly where to refer them for help.

"I thought the most useful part of the training was learning about depression and abuse, and self-soothing exercises to improve moods," she was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

In order to monitor the effectiveness of the training, researchers will check if the domestic workers can retain the information, and whether a better understanding of mental health improves their personal mental state.