A quarter of maids surveyed found to have poor mental health
He has heard of cases of mistreated maids after being in the industry for about seven years.
Director of Passion Maid and Employment Agency, Mr Low Moon Heng, told The New Paper yesterday that some maids are not even allowed to step out of the home for even a minute.
He said: “They have no days off at all. Maids like these have no contact with anybody else, except their employers. They cannot find any other ways to seek help because contact with the outside world is so limited.
“These maids often feel trapped. They could therefore end up with mental problems, be pushed over the edge and try any means possible to get out.”
Mr Low added that because of situations like these, there have been rare instances of maids committing crimes against their employers.
These include abusing their employers’ children or elderly parents, tainting their food with foreign objects and in the extreme cases, even murder.
Between November 2013 and May last year, migrant worker welfare group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) conducted a survey on 670 maids and found out that about a quarter of those surveyed could be classified as having poor mental health.
Its lead researcher, Ms Anja Wessels, said that compared to worldwide and general Singapore population statistics, maids here are doubly at risk of developing mental health problems.
GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
The psychologist added that important factors that are beneficial for the good mental well-being of maids include having sufficient rest, a stable social network and a room to sleep in.
She also said that factors which may be detrimental to a maid’s mental health include language-related communication barriers and abusive behaviour – especially verbal and physical – by the employer or his/her family.
Ms Wessels said: “Being in debt, suffering from physical illness, homesickness or worries about their families at home are risk factors for the foreign domestic worker’s mental well-being.
“An employer can make or break a maid.”
Home’s executive director Jolovan Wham agreed.
“Employers play the most important role in ensuring a maid’s well-being.”
To better protect the local maid population, Mr Wham said that employers should learn some useful phrases in their maid’s native tongue.
He said that employers should also ensure a full weekly rest day for their maids.
“For the employer, improving the quality of life of foreign domestic workers means less stress, which will increase their productivity,” said Mr Wham.
Image source: https://www.youth.sg/Our-Voice/Your-Take/2014/3/Maid-abuse