Migrant workers under great mental stress: Poll

Press/Media: Expert Comment

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Media coverage of the launch of our report 'Vital Yet Vulnerable'.

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More than half of the lower-skilled South Asian migrant workers here waiting for salary or injury claims are likely to be suffering from serious psychological distress. This is according to a Singapore Management University (SMU) survey released yesterday.

The survey of 605 workers, mostly from Bangladesh and India, found that more than 60 per cent of respondents who had outstanding injury or salary claims were predicted to have serious mental illness. This is more than four times the prevalence among workers with no claims. The study listed threats of repatriation by employers, debts owed to agents, and a lack of housing for runaway workers as the main causes of the stress.

SMU Assistant Professor Nicholas Harrigan, who co-authored the study with former SMU student Koh Chiu Yee, said that the precarious nature of work for migrant workers here can affect their well-being. "Serious mental illness", according to the survey, could include being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which can impair a person's ability to do his job, combined with missing over 30 days of work in a year.

"Unequal bargaining power can escalate small incidents into complicated issues," said Prof Harrigan at an event at SMU to share the survey findings.

Period5 Nov 2015

Media coverage

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Media coverage

  • TitleMigrant workers under great mental stress: Poll
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletStraits Times
    Media typePrint
    Duration/Length/SizeNewspaper Article
    CountrySingapore
    Date5/11/15
    DescriptionMore than half of the lower-skilled South Asian migrant workers here waiting for salary or injury claims are likely to be suffering from serious psychological distress. This is according to a Singapore Management University (SMU) survey released yesterday.

    The survey of 605 workers, mostly from Bangladesh and India, found that more than 60 per cent of respondents who had outstanding injury or salary claims were predicted to have serious mental illness. This is more than four times the prevalence among workers with no claims. The study listed threats of repatriation by employers, debts owed to agents, and a lack of housing for runaway workers as the main causes of the stress.

    SMU Assistant Professor Nicholas Harrigan, who co-authored the study with former SMU student Koh Chiu Yee, said that the precarious nature of work for migrant workers here can affect their well-being. "Serious mental illness", according to the survey, could include being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which can impair a person's ability to do his job, combined with missing over 30 days of work in a year.

    "Unequal bargaining power can escalate small incidents into complicated issues," said Prof Harrigan at an event at SMU to share the survey findings.
    Producer/AuthorJoanna Seow
    URLhttps://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/migrant-workers-under-great-mental-stress-poll
    PersonsNicholas Harrigan