The year 2020 has shone spotlight on the mental well-being of migrant workers in Singapore. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in migrant worker dormitories, the pandemic has not only taken a toll on the community’s physical health, but also their psychological health. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of isolation, anxiety, and despair within the migrant worker community.
While SOS has been at the forefront providing emotional support via their 24-hour Hotline in Singapore, limitation in language capabilities remains a challenge to support the greater migrant worker population. HealthServe has been meeting the needs of distressed migrant workers with a call back counselling helpline since 2020 but has seen an increased need to reach more migrant workers who are facing crisis. Through setting up the first crisis 24/7 hotline in Singapore with the support of SOS, HealthServe hopes to provide a safe space for them to immediately reach out for emotional support.
To prepare the establishment of this new hotline service, SOS will train staff and volunteers from HealthServe in skills such as empathetic listening, managing suicide crisis and ensuring safety on the hotline. As part of HealthServe’s role in Project DAWN, this support is crucial in helping to expand mental health support for migrant workers in Singapore.
“Far from home and often in substantial debt incurred to pay agents’ fees, many migrant workers faced high levels of mental stress even before COVID-19. Our mental health programme, which we started in 2019, went into overdrive with the pandemic, as depression and anxiety became even more prevalent.” shares Chan Chia Lin, Chairman of HealthServe. She hopes that “through setting up this hotline, we will be better able to support those worst affected.”
Mr Gasper Tan, Chief Executive of Samaritans of Singapore (SOS), shares his thoughts “The pandemic had brought to the forefront the need to improve the support system provided to a community that has been often neglected. We are concerned about the mental well-being of the migrant worker population who are at risk of having suicide ideation and behaviours as there are less support networks available to them.”
He added, “This new service is one that is much needed, and SOS is happy to support in any way we can to help. We are really honoured to partner HealthServe in establishing this new hotline service. We believe that collaborations are crucial to be able to collectively support those in our community who are facing crisis, especially those who fall through the cracks and are not able to receive timely and adequate support.”