13 Sep 2016

Mental health of domestic maids (FDW)

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Training needed for maids tasked to care for elderly, Straits Times, 12 Sep 2016
The case of domestic worker Murni Panengsih ("Jailed for assaulting employer's mum, 96"; last Tuesday) highlights the pressing need to address several issues, such as the lack of training for maids hired to look after the elderly and the high levels of stress the workers face.

While Murni's inability to cope with work and mental stress is certainly no excuse for her actions, we wish to raise the issue of the lack of proper training for domestic workers, especially those who have to care for the elderly suffering from dementia and other complicated health problems.   (Winter:  not ready to work, too princess to take stress = employers' problem?  To train and screen a maid, it is our obligation, not agencies?  Why are employers paying so much agency fee yet FDWs are unsuitable/of poor quality?  Should MOM have another category of FDWs who are trained and prepared to work for special needs households?  There are courses for FDWs/caregivers but no prior screening to ensure FDWs are mentally prepared and willing be employed.  Employers certainly don't want to cry over spilled milk so what policy is available to protect employers, ensure the FDWs are mentally suitable before agency fees are paid?  Also, any document to be signed by FDW after she has been mentally screened by agency and given description of work scope?  Activists are keen to condemn employers.  Many don't care that we're helpless and lack of support.  Many don't understand there are bad FDWs because most are not shone with spotlight, compared to bad employers... severely screwed and reported.)

Caring for the elderly comes with its fair share of challenges and requires specific knowledge and skills. A domestic worker who does not receive proper training and is expected to be the main caregiver will find it difficult to cope with the complex demands of eldercare.

Murni's assigned lawyer said a psychiatrist had diagnosed the maid with adjustment disorder and stated that her mental illness contributed significantly to her offences. Her stress levels were compounded by round-the-clock supervision of her elderly charge.

In a health and well-being research study conducted by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economicslast year, almost a quarter of the 700 domestic workers interviewed suffered from mental problems. And only 40 per cent of them enjoyed a weekly day off.

The study also reveals that "having sufficient rest, one's own room to sleep in, a stable social network and adequate nutritional and medical attention are crucial for good mental health" in foreign domestic workers.  (Winter:  This activist obviously hasn't live in a HDB flat with a family and maid.  This freak doesn't look at the limited space of HDB flats.  Giving FDW a room and the employer/children/elderly sleep in the living room or improper place, makes sense?  Anybody insane to do the opposite, do a big sacrifice by allowing FDW to enjoy life better than you?  This isn't about basic needs, it is about FDWs/Activists demanding a luxury life, giving FDWs the moon... so unrealistic and ridiculous!  Activists are just trying to ruin Spore and pointing fingers at the unprotected employers.  Why HDB isn't targeted?  Anybody with a clear mind would know employers didn't build such small and expensive flats.  We've no organisation to protect and stand up for us so employers deserved unfair treatment?)

Singapore is an ageing population, and a White Paper released in 2012 projected the number of domestic workers to increase to 300,000 by 2030. Domestic workers will continue to be hired to provide essential caregiving duties to our young and elderly.

It is important that issues such as caregiving duties be addressed holistically, including the training of domestic workers, their welfare and living conditions.

Sheena Kanwar (Ms)
Executive Director
Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics

防雇主遭受伤害女佣接受心理评估有用吗?  OMY, 10 Jul 2016




Is it beneficial to employers for prospective FDWs to go through pre-employment screening at a high cost?  This is to reduce mentally unstable FDWs being employed by Sg employers and avoid unfortunate cases such as being murdered or abused by FDWs.

Employing FDWs is a necessity for households with elderly and young children but are FDWs our helpers or problem makers?

10.07.2016 联合早报:新加坡新闻,防雇主遭受伤害,女佣接受心理评估有用吗?
本地女佣杀害雇主的案件近年来时有所闻,不禁令人猜想导致悲剧的原因何在,案发前是不是早已有迹可循?  对初到本地工作的女佣进行心理与精神评估,能不能避免聘请到有暴力倾向的女佣,以防止类似案










据非政府组织“情义之家”(Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics,简称HOME)去年3月公布一项针对本地女佣精神健康所做的调查,每10名女佣中就有超过两人的精神健康不佳,她们出现精神问题的风险比一般新加坡人高出一倍。其中的导因包括遭雇主辱骂、隐私遭侵犯等。

情义之家执行理事长范国瀚说,要预防女佣因压力过大而患上精神病的方法之一,就是设立更多援助管道,让她们在遭受雇主不公平对待时,能够及时获得帮助。非政府组织“客工亦重”(Transient Workers Count Too,简称TWC2)前任主席约翰·吉(John Gee)研究女佣课题与处理相关投诉已超过10年。据他观察,女佣与雇主发生摩擦,最终得转向组织寻求援助,其中常因双方疏于沟通,导致彼此产生误会与误解。他说:“我经常碰到女佣因太过操劳,几乎完全没有休假,最终可能和雇主发生冲突而向组织求助。当我们介入时,雇主都说那是因为女佣不曾向他们提出要休息的要求。这听起来或许很荒谬,但事实上,很多女佣可能因害怕被遣送回国,而在遭遇不公平对待时选择‘哑忍’。”



客工亦重前任主席约翰·吉则建议,本地女佣代理及雇主应该主动让女佣接受培训,充实她们的生活,也帮助她们提升自身的技能,以更好地应付雇主的需求。 “例如,不少雇主小看了看护患病老人的工作,以为一般新聘的女佣就能应付这项职务,但事实上,她们必须先接受相关培训,才能更好地胜任。她们的看护技能获得提升后,工作会随着增值而变得更有意义,态度也会变得更正面。”


雇主黄美兰(45岁,商人)的女佣都乐于为她效劳,其中一名续约三次、受雇长达七年,另一名回国七年后选择再次回到这名前雇主的家当帮佣。  这是因为这些女佣在本地工作时,黄美兰充当女佣的“心灵导师”,教导她们如何开导家中处于叛逆期的孩子,甚至“连线”女佣患病的丈夫分享养身之道。黄美兰10多年前开始聘请女佣帮忙照顾家中三名儿子,她在受访时说,每一名女佣刚到她家时,她们的卫生与饮食习惯都跟她本人的要求有很大不同,必须多方劝导才能获得改善。“例如,烹煮生肉时,必须先将肉过热水以去除异味和杂质;拖地不能让地板太湿滑以防他人滑倒……这些生活常识她们都不懂。我必须重复并不断提醒,有时实在无法忍受才会加以责骂。”

不过,黄美兰说,这么做并无法改善情况,反而使她与女佣的关系变得紧张。她说:“后来,我要女佣把我的要求记录在本子里,让她们慢慢地了解工作需要并逐渐达到我的要求,这个做法比不断重复和责骂来得更有效。”  黄美兰说,她也意识到,与女佣的沟通必须是双向的,这包括让女佣抒发对雇主的不满,如此敞开胸怀相处,彼此才不会怀恨在心。

黄美兰除了是女佣的雇主,也充当女佣的“心灵导师”,帮助她们解决生活上的困扰。约三年前,她发现聘用了18个月的菲律宾籍女佣在外结交了外籍劳工男友时,她并没有立即责骂,反而是尝试开导女佣。  “我要她约男友出来,让我看看他的为人如何,是不是真心爱她,然后才决定该如何处理这件事。不过,这名男子拒绝与我们见面,最后说只是想玩玩,我的女佣听到后才知道自己被骗。可能是基于感恩,后来她回国后仍把我当长者看待,至今我们仍保持联系。”

除了把女佣当成家中的一分子,黄美兰也爱屋及乌,不时主动关心女佣的家人。她说,这些年轻女子远离家乡到本地工作,不外是为了赚取金钱改善家庭生活,而女佣在远方的家若安然无事,自然就能安心工作。 “我也是女人,了解她们的经历,比如在带孩子方面,女佣的孩子长大后开始叛逆,我也有过同样经历,便会教她应如何与孩子沟通对话,保持良好关系。其中一名女佣的丈夫患有甲状腺炎,这种病我也患过,有时他们夫妇进行视频连线聊天时,我借机‘入镜’,教她的丈夫如何照顾身体,并跟他说他妻子在我家工作的日子过得很好,不必为她操心。”

目前受雇于黄美兰一家的菲律宾籍女佣珍妮弗(37岁)七年前曾在这个家庭工作过,当时她在约满后决定回家,以照顾成长中的孩子。她受访时告诉记者,她选择回到黄美兰的家为她服务,除了是因为熟悉那里的人和环境外,也希望报答雇主曾经施予的恩惠。  “两年前,台风袭击我的家乡,雇主得知后第一时间联络上我,并寄了一些钱、衣服和干粮等救济品过来,缓解了我和家人当时面对的困境,我不会忘记雇主的这番好意。我的孩子现在长大了,我能抽出时间再来当帮佣,也希望能存一笔钱回家,进一步改善家里的生活。”

Winter:  I am surprised Filipinos fared so badly, can't take stress/easily develop psychological distress.  Had the "best source country" to take lead in fighting benefits such as compulsory off days, higher salary, more human right excuses yet appeared so weak/vulnerable.  I hope this study conducted on only 546 out of 231,500 FDWs in Spore, is not going to cause any panic or unnecessary problems for employers.  This figure is only 0.25%, not even 1% of the total FDWs in Spore so guess it won't be used to make Filipino the least desirable helpers in the job market .... prone to breakdown = time bombs.  If FDWs are so delicate, mentality of princesses, want to play hard but can't 'program' to work hard, you dare to employ? Employers look like money nowhere to spend?

Could it be those Filipinos lied to gain sympathy, get more benefit or HOME up to no good .... trying to ruin the image of Spore FDWs' employer?  Make us look hideous.  Unable to manage stress to become employers' problem?  FDWs so pampered 娇贵?  Most of us are employee of certain companies so our companies have to shoulder our personal issues/incompetency?  Which company will act like a charity organisation or insane to keep employee who want to be highly paid yet no quality and can't deliver their job commitments?  
Maids trained to be counsellors to peers. Straits Times, 11 Apr 2016
Some maids in Singapore are being trained to recognise signs of mental stress and to offer help, in a move to improve mental health support for foreign domestic workers here.  The aim is to help distressed domestic workers who have mental stress symptoms that go unidentified, or do not know where to go for help.

By next month, 39 Filipino foreign domestic workers would have completed the training, an initiative by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), a migrant worker welfare group.

One participant, Ms Robina Lavato, 43, for instance, now knows what to do if she spots symptoms of depression, such as being withdrawn and losing sleep, in her friends. She will plan activities they enjoy to cheer them up.

If the situation deteriorates and the friend talks about suicide, Ms Lavato knows it is time for professional help and she has the numbers to dial.  "The idea here is for them to serve as a bridge between the professional mental health community and their own community," said the research initiative's principal investigator, Dr Keng Shian-Ling, assistant professor at the Department of Psychology at NUS.

A study by Home last year found that more than one in five of the 546 maids from Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar polled had psychological distress. This was based on a measurement of nine markers, including depression and anxiety.

Filipino domestic workers fared the worst, with 36 per cent experiencing mental distress, compared with 11 per cent in the Indonesian workers and 26 per cent among those from Myanmar.  Researchers decided to train Filipino maids as "paracounsellors" as they seemed the most vulnerable, said Dr Keng. 

More than 200 maids signed up for the training but there are spaces for only 40.  Last month, clinical psychologist trainees Marian Wong and Sudev Suthendran started training the women, who were divided into two groups. The trainees undergo four three-hour sessions conducted on Sundays.  The first group completed their training on April 3 and the second group started yesterday.

To gauge 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.

If the training proves effective, Home aims to develop a peer counselling service and will look for registered counsellors or psychologists who can volunteer to supervise these peer counsellors.  During the training, the women are also taught to identify and restructure negative thoughts.  Trainer Ms Wong cited the case of a foreign domestic worker who felt she was a terrible mother.  "We got her to look at evidence of her not being a good mother, and evidence that does not support that thought.  "We teach them questions to ask their peers so they will have more balanced thoughts," she said.

Ms Lavato, who volunteers her time to man Home's helpline, said she signed up to learn more about how to help her peers, especially 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 said.

Winter:  FDWs can breakdown due to stress or even find men to 'cure her loneliness'.  As Employers, in the eyes of MOM/activists, you CANNOT breakdown due to stress or overworked.  You're on your own, the law will not protect or give you leeway because you failed to manage your life well ... you can seek help from psychiatrist (at your own costs) and if your employer finds out, your job may be gone because you are 'at risk of suffering a mental breakdown'.  As FDW's employer is becomes your liability, your duty to treat the FDW (medical) and give her a good +relaxing job??  Those Singaporeans who slogged long hours just to make ends meet, aren't they pathetic?  Employers, do you feel sad that as a human being, you are treated so badly?  Does your company or our PAP ask how well are you managing your life and what's best for you - not overwork or stressed?
Employers must not push maids over the edge, ST Forum, 7 Jul 2015
I am glad the maid who fractured a baby's elbow was given a light jail sentence of two weeks ("Maid gets two weeks' jail for fracture on baby's elbow"; last Wednesday).

Employers must understand that if a maid works during the day, she cannot be expected to take care of the baby at night as well.  It is the responsibility of the parents to take care of their children at night; it is not right to push the responsibility to the maid just so the employers can have a peaceful night.

Being overworked and ill-treated is one reason maids commit crimes. The frustration and depression can push them over the edge.

Shamim Moledina (Ms)

Winter:  Another case of maid not punished by law.  If the rapist is a man, how will the law deal with such an evil person?  Maid with sexually transmitted disease and intentionally tried to ruin a teenage ... disappointed with the way activist (showed sympathy)/law in Spore.  
FDW suffering from mental health is always a good excuse for activists to help FDW escape severe punishment.  Below case didn't state any sign of mental issue.  It is an evil woman trying to satisfy her lust at the expense of others .... and the Sg law protected her!
Employers have role to play in maids' health, 24 Sep 2015, ST Forum
In her letter ("Tighter screening of maids needed"; Sept 24), Ms Lim Wan Keng said that health screening packages for maids are very basic and do not pick up pre-existing conditions or screen for signs of depression or other mental disorders.  She also said that the standard medical insurance for maids does not cover normal medical bills.

While the standard medical insurance for maids covers accidents, and not normal medical bills, there are riders that can be purchased to cover maids' mental conditions, including hospitalisation and specialist treatment for any mental condition.  This may help to reduce the financial burden on employers if maids are found to be mentally distressed.

When foreign maids enter Singapore the first time, they are required to undergo basic physical health screening, which includes blood and urine tests, chest X-rays and medical examination by a general practitioner.  It would be a real challenge for GPs to examine maids' mental health because there may be no apparent symptoms in such new workers.

Requiring maids to undergo mental health assessment when they first enter Singapore for work could put their employment prospects in jeopardy. Also, there is still a global social stigma associated with mental disorders.  The responsibility still lies with maid employers. If employers notice any strange behaviour in their maids, they can have them examined by psychological counsellors or trained clinical psychologists.

If the maids are deemed to have a mental health issue, they should be referred to psychiatrists.  When it comes to maids' regular medical check-ups, perhaps the frequency should be increased to once every three months, instead of the current half-yearly checks.

Tighter screening of maids needed, 24 Sep 2015 ST Forum
As a mother with young children at home with a domestic helper, yesterday's news was disturbing ("Maid jailed for sex with employer's teenage son).  The report stated that the maid had a sexually transmitted disease. I wonder why this was not picked up during her regular medical check-up every half a year.

Perhaps the authorities could widen the scope of conditions to be checked during medical check-ups for maids. For example, diseases such as hepatitis B, which is contagious, are not screened as part of the mandatory health check. For my helpers, I had to specifically ask the agents to add in this item for checking.

The health screening packages for maids are very basic and do not pick up any pre-existing conditions or screen for signs of depression or other mental disorders.  The standard medical insurance for maids also does not cover normal medical bills.  When returning maids come back to Singapore to seek new employment, are they screened for any police records, such as if they had previously run away from their employers? This information would be important for prospective new employers.

With more families having both spouses working these days, leaving more vulnerable young and elderly people at home alone with maids, there needs to be tighter screening of maids, to safeguard the welfare of families.

Indonesian maid jailed for sex with employer's teenage son23 Sep 2015, Straits Times
A domestic worker has been jailed for 10 months for having sex with a minor half her age.  The 28-year-old Indonesian woman admitted on Monday to having sex with her employer's 14-year-old son in their house on Sept 5. Neither party can be named due to a gag order.

The court heard that the woman came to Singapore in late June and started working for the boy's family on July 3.  At about 7pm on Sept 5, the boy was at home with the woman and another foreign domestic helper. His parents and his uncle, who lives there, were not at home at the time.  

The Secondary 2 student was showing card tricks to the woman when she tried to hug him, but he moved her hand away.  Later, he went up to his room. The woman followed shortly after. He was seated when she approached him from behind and kissed his cheeks and neck.  He stood up and tried to walk to the door.  However, before he could leave, she hugged him and began to undress.

Stunned by what was happening, he did not resist. She then removed his clothes, led him to his bed and had sex with him.  She stopped when she heard the boy's uncle come home.  The boy later told his father what had happened and his mother called the police.  Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Lai cited aggravating factors when he asked the court to impose at least 10 months' jail on the woman.  He said there was breach of trust and a wide age disparity between the parties.

She also had unprotected sex with the boy - which, in itself, was reprehensible - when she had been tested positive for Chlamydia trachomatis, a sexually transmitted disease.  "It could have been sheer luck that the boy was eventually not infected, but the fact remains that she put the boy at risk of being infected, and an adverse inference should be drawn against her,'' he said.

Facebook comments:
Fadly Azad -- Only 10 months? If its the opposite and its a guy, confirm go in at least a few years. 

Jacob Blue -- Why is it "having sex". Why isn't it considered rape? Cos the victim is male?

Lynus Martin -- 10 months only ? And that boy caught std! !!!!! Hello judge wake up what if it was your kid

Yang-Zhuo MeiYan 28 years old man forcefully make out with a 14 years old girl = rape = jail + caning
28 years old woman with STD make out with 14 years old boy NOT = rape = 10 months jail ONLY
What sorcery?! As a woman myself, I feel this punishment is unjust.

Anna Chung -- The woman could hv been jail up to 10 years, so why 10 months? WHY WHY??

Angie Liu -- 10 months???!!! Wat kind of msg r we sending to maids who commit hideous crimes? To put a child thru that ordeal n who may hv contracted sexually transmitted disease fm her is to say the least, a despicable crime. And she attacked a minor, for goodness sake!

Ambrose Cheng -- Heng ah only give 10 months. Why?
It's a bigger punishment than 10 years. She's a foreigner; the longer she's jailed here, the more our government pays to keep her safe behind bars, fed and taken care off.
Now she's given a just sentence, has a permanent record against her which will affect her internationally, and will probably never be able to step foot in Singapore again.
A short sentence is probably just as bad, if not worse, for her because she ain't a local. just thinking out loud

Elana Sims Chan -- Horrific ! We have similar crimes of sexual offences of kids molested or abused by Foreign Domestic Workers , not many but equally disgusted, and shocking. Likewise there are employers who were sent to jail for abusing their helpers. The most infamous one was imprisoned for 5 years (Erwiana Case)

Diana Wong -- Jailed for ONLY 10 mths for having sec with an undersigned boy.

Why No jail term for putting the buy's future at risk when she is aware she is suffering from a Chlamydia Trachoma tis & that she MUST inform the other person before having sex ???

Loh Wai Poon -- This is an example of the kind of domestic helpers we don't want in our homes. Once she is done with her jail term, she should be deported and not allowed to work in Singapore again. We appreciate the domestic helpers work in keeping our home clean, taking care of our children, elderly etc and will take care of their welfare when they are living with us. However we cannot accept harm coming from them.

Richardo Link -- She thought she could enjoy free sex in the comfort of the boy's bed whenever she like. Now she can have them with her fellow inmates in the cell.

Benjamin Alexander Cai -- 10 months? Imagine if a male maid does this to a 14 year old female.

Kwok Ying Ying -- The scarier thing is she can change to a new name and come into SG again if she wants to after her jail term


Doris Yam -- Last time, we were poor but mother always around. Now, mothers are encouraged; to go for jobs. So; leave their precious children to the Maids!
Whats the point of giving birth to children? No wonder maids are highly demanded in our nation now. Whose fault!??? 

Vincent Hor -- Its so scary , who know some domestic helpers already infected with .... before they come. Medical checkup should include sd ....

Jane Tan -- So sad but seriously....I'm not surprised at all these things happen. The rate that so called 'rejected' helpers (for petty crimes that aren't serious enough to jail them) are being rehired within months of being sent home is so high that until something serious like this happens, do the police bother to do something about it. Hopefully immigration won't be dumb enough to let her come back again.

Dawnn Tan -- Why isnt she cane for it?

Daryl Tan -- Sex with underaged should work both way..cane & heavy sentence.

Albert YM Lee -- It is rape by a woman on a male.




Maid jailed for scissors killing, Mypaper, 28 Jul
A 25 years old domestic maid from Myanmar got 13 years' jail yesterday for killing her employer's 87-year-old mother-in-law.  Than Than Win pleaded guilty in the High Court to a charge of culpable homicide for stabbing Yong Wan Lan with a pair of scissors at Springdale Condominium in Hindhede Walk, Bukit Timah, on March 4 last year.

Her charge was reduced from murder as she had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from severe depression with psychotic symptoms at the time.  The maid had been working for the family for more than a year, and was alone at home with the elderly woman when she became increasingly angry over a scolding she received from Madam Yong that morning.

The maid got the largest pair of scissors she could find from a kitchen drawer, then repeatedly stabbed the senior, who was too frail to retaliate.  After killing Madam Yong, the maid washed herself in the bathroom with her clothes on. She then left the apartment, drenched and barefoot, and wandered around the estate. She got a saw from a parked truck and tried to cut her neck, but was stopped by a worker.

During sentencing, Justice Chan Seng Onn noted that the maid had viciously attacked a very elderly grandmother she was supposed to help look after.  The judge noted that she inflicted at least 21 stab wounds on Madam Yong, two of which were fatal injuries to her heart and lungs.

Culpable homicide carries a sentence of up to 20 years' jail or life imprisonment.

========== Winter: According to activists, not allowing FDWs to have full access to their mobile phones is a major cause for FDW to develop mental issues 心理不健康.  Most modern maids have off days to unwind, plenty of chances to get connected face to face with others eg neigbours so why place them in limelight .... indicating employers didn't treat them well or are unreasonable bullies/tyrants??  

Just because of mobile phone, maid felt her life is meaningless without 24/7 access?  What's the point of recruiting FDW if her intention is to have fun at employer's expense, spend time doing her personal things more than completing her chores to employer's satisfaction, look after children, etc? 

Are FDWs, MOM and activists doing us a disservice?  Do we deserve to be treated like ATM machines?  Why FDWs cannot take work stress, why nobody says Sporeans are too stressed at work, too many restrictions/policies and then do something for us by eating into govt's budget as and when we need?  Why made us fleeced by FDWs, source countries and agencies?

FDWs can cause us financial losses and miseries, why they can do it to us without any penalty?  Whose job to ensure FDWs recruited are truly here to work and not to use stress or her mobile phone as excuses of underperform?  

Extracted from here:
"The growing presence of mental illness is a very real and worrying trend in Singapore and the world in general today.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 350 million individuals in the world suffer from depression, with one million cases resulting in suicide every year.

Individuals who suffer from mental illness such as depression do not experience it by choice. It is not bound by religion, race or gender. It can happen to anyone at any stage of life."  

Why maids facing mental health received better care and attention in Spore, at the expense of FDW employer cum full-time employee of a company??  Why maids can be excusable/unable to cope with work stress? Aren't FDWs too pampered by MOM and activists?  

Foreign domestic workers more likely to develop mental health problems, 8 Mar 2015, TODAY
A new study has found that foreign domestic workers (FDW) have double the risk to develop mental health problems as compared to the general Singapore population.

The study, conducted by Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) and revealed today (March 8) showed that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the 670 FDWs surveyed, are facing poor mental health.

This means that more than two in 10 FDW have poor mental health as compared to a study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health in 2010 which showed that at least one in 10 people in Singapore which will be stricken by mental illness in their lifetime.

Several factors such as working and living conditions proved to be significantly related to impact a FWD’s mental health, said the study.  “Having sufficient rest, one’s own room to sleep in, a stable social network and adequate nutritional and medical attention are crucial for good mental health in FDWs,” it added.

The study showed that the most severe symptoms amongst those surveyed were psychoticism – a mental state of “losing contact with reality” which includes symptoms such as hallucinations – depression and interpersonal sensitivity – which means they feel inferior or inadequate as compared to others.

“There are clear correlations between FDWs’ mental health issues and exploitative, restrictive and/or abusive working and living conditions,” said the study.  The survey also revealed that more than half (51 per cent) of the participants experienced some form of abusive behaviour such as yelling or screaming and even name-calling.

The survey was conducted between Nov 2013 and May last year. Almost half (48.1 per cent) of the FDWs surveyed – with an average age of 33 – were from Indonesia and more than a third (34.7 per cent) were from the Philippines. The other nationalities surveyed also include those from Myanmar.

A survey of nearly 700 foreign domestic workers here has found that more than two in 10 respondents are suffering from poor mental health.

Releasing the findings of the survey yesterday, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) said such a prevalence rate indicates that maids working here are doubly at risk of developing mental health problems compared with Singapore’s general population.  The survey was conducted between November 2013 and May last year. The respondents came from Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar, among other countries, and their average age was 33.  

Based on answers to questions on well-being — such as whether they had thoughts of ending their life, whether they feel “nervousness or shakiness inside” and whether they felt afraid — HOME concluded that about 24 per cent of the 670 maids surveyed have poor mental health.

The most severe symptoms were for depression and psychoticism, which is a mental state of losing contact with reality. The symptoms for depression include persistent “low” moods and self-esteem as well as loss of interest, pleasure and hope, while those for psychoticism include hallucinations.

The survey also looked at the working conditions of maids here. It found that about half the respondents had experienced some form of abusive behaviour, such as being yelled or screamed at, or being subject to name-calling. Forty per cent did not have a weekly day off and 67 per cent had their passport held by their employers. About a third (32 per cent) experienced difficulties due to language barriers when communicating with their employers.

HOME said there were correlations between the workers’ mental health issues and exploitative, restrictive and abusive working and living conditions. Noting this, it said in the survey report that workers should have sufficient rest, adequate attention from employers on their nutritional and medical needs, their own room to sleep in and a stable social network.

Signs of mental health problems employers can look out for include emotional outbursts, feelings of depression or unhappiness, quietness or withdrawal.

HOME also said workers should be encouraged to be proactive and to approach friends, family and organisations such as HOME for help when they experience distress, have family concerns or a mental health problem.

They should also learn the language of the employer, which is typically English or Mandarin. Employers should learn some useful phrases of their domestic workers’ native language, maintain open channels of communication and treat them professionally and with respect.

Meanwhile, HOME said the Government should make verbal abuse a reportable offence and communicate a zero-tolerance stance towards the abuse of domestic workers in any form.

HOME executive director Jolovan Wham said the organisation has seen cases of domestic workers seeking help for mental-health related issues.

In such instances, the organisation would send them to Silver Ribbon, a non-profit organisation which advocates against the stigma of mental illness and encourages early treatment. In more severe cases, they would be referred to the Institute of Mental Health.

'Possessed' maid eats employer's pet kitten, The Star/Asia News Network Malaysia, 8 Jun 2014
A maid in Sibu, Malaysia has given new meaning to the term "crazy cat lady".  The allegedly "possessed" maid ate her employer's pet kitten alive on Thursday, leaving the remains strewn in front of the house.

Upon the gruesome discovery, the house owner confronted the maid, who had apparently been acting weirdly for the past two weeks.  "When I queried her, she told me she had eaten the kitten," she said.  Later, she went berserk, compelling us to tie her up," said the female employer, as reported in a local daily.

The employer promised the maid, who is from a neighbouring country, that she would be allowed to return home the next day.  That night, the maid spent the night tied up in the family car, outside the house compound.

Her employer was quoted as saying that the maid appeared normal the next day and was then untied.  "I took her to buy chicken rice at Ramin Way around 10.30am," she said.  "After I got the food, she refused to get into the car and created a scene.  "She ran amok. She then got into the car and threw things out. She also bit an ornamental tree," she said.

When a policeman tried to handcuff the maid, she bit his arm.  The maid was eventually sent to Sibu Hospital in a straight-jacket and with her face covered to prevent her from spitting at people.  The employer said the episode had traumatised the family, and added that she had vivid flashbacks of the torn skin of the kitten in front of her house.

Facebook comments:
Mahdiyyah Mahomed - Some people treat maids very bad and don't give them enough to eat, before you judge the maid please get both sides of the story.

Elinor Reboso Arintoc - some employers just took for granted d fact that without their househelp, their house is a total mess. try treating them as a family member and surely, evrything will be in harmony and peace... that maid might have been hungered and it affected her behavior.

Milanie Masangya Delarosa - Some employer treat maids very bad and don't give them enough food they never treat them as like there own family if u are good to ur maid ur maid will treat u good also. Like my madam she always treat me like her own family we eat together and she always as me if im feeling okie thats why God well always bless them hope all the employer is the same with my employers God bless u all.

May Lam - What an absolute tragedy...clearly this domestic worker needed psychiatric help. But why on earth would you tie her up in a car - surely they should have called the police as she should be committed into a safer environment such as a hospital.

Alison Natalya - Whenever a maid commit a crime like this scenarios suddenly alot of "maids" experts come up excuses for them. But when a maid ill-treat a child n was caught on CCTV all these so called "experts" also suddenly disappear.

Qubeley Tan - Precisely, somehow they know she was somehow abused and ill-treated and it always justifies such behaviour. No prizes for guessing the occupation of such "experts'

LeeHana Sweetie - Unless the owner didnt give her much food to eat. Its also can be the fault of the owner. For not taking good care of their maids.

Eugene Wong - Before you engage a maid...I strongly suggest you put the maid through a psychometric or personality test...even before they come to the country...this is to access if they are sound or unsound and please dont ask the recruitment agency to do it cause most of them work with illegal human trafficking syndicates to get your maids...they can even fake passports...fake credentials...even lie to immigration and embassy to bring them in. The indonesian maid we hired who comes from surabaya from a katong shopping centre maid agency...lied about her passport...fake her age...fake her past enployment and even help lie to immigration and the embassy. I suggest all be careful..

Jaybie Bautista - She got crazy maybe due to not good treatment from the employer, no food to eat and maybe treat inhuman, poor thing, good bless u

Natalie Tan Li Min - I don't believe that the maid is possessed! She has mental illness and need medical treatment

Ronald Ko - If your employer not provide enough food for you, will you eat a kitten alive?

Vasantha Shan - Yah, maid not given enough food. Very good reason for eating a life kitten. Pls lah, how can you ppl accept such excuses. She is not in a jungle or anything like tat. She is a maid in somebody's house. Nobody needs to tell her where to find food in a place she is working.

Maria Sina - on Eating a live cat? That is called "SURVIVOR"

Camille Frances Boudville -It breaks my heart to read articles like these. Animal cruelty has become a common crime that is no worse than murder of a human. Rest in peace sweet kitten 

Uma Shawn - Oh my nowadays even when a maid eats a live cat the blame falls on the employer.In what ways does it justify that she eats a cat for her hunger?Poor kitty:(

When a maid is mentally unsound, employer faces the losses and inconveniences.  If your loved ones is hurt or killed by FDW, how many people/strangers/activists will shred tears or feel sad?  How many will say you're not at fault, it is MOM and agency who are at fault for not doing proper screening and imposing stricter recruitment guidelines/exercise due diligence?

Activists tend to claim maids became mentally unsound due to bad employers, abused, not enough rest & friends, too young (underaged), employers are not understanding & kind, Spore has too high living standards & expectations from the poor girls and/or we didn't give maids enough time to settle down & learn/pick up slowly (months and year).  Do we, middle income earner-employers have the grounds or luxury to spoon feed those not cheap live-in maids?  Which company can spare you time or give lots of leave so that you can be away and train FDW leisurely?

This MOM spokeman Hawazi is not keen to think about us, our dilemma and difficulties.  If one fine day MOM decides that maids should be scrutinised, the costs will be high on employers.  Nobody will be keen to know that employers are already paying agency a lot of money.  Maid paid agency to get a juicy job in Spore.  I paid a FDW to be my good helper, a kind caregiver to my child and don't give me headaches.  As the middleman, shouldn't maid agencies do something to avoid unhappiness, playgirls or mentally unstable applicants?  Agencies are the main point of contact for both FDW and Employer so how can they walk away and just take in easy profits?

Winter: These FDWs seemed like having mental issues.  But employers are not spared, they get the miseries and financial losses due to such maids.  Agencies need to face any losses or inconvenience too!  Employers who are trying to be nice or had been nice but were bitten by maids are the ones who are crying!

Want to hire a maid, face the music!  This is the punishment MOM is giving employers.  Those who are bad employers won't feel these unfairness.  

What about those maids who 'committed suicide' ie attempt to run away to fall to her death, eg above?  All I can say, the law is not on employers' side, extremely unfair.  All mentally unsound or bad maids need not face any consequences or equal financial losses.  You cannot take work stress, do you tell your company/bosses or try commit suicide?  You don't but maid as an employee is 'entitled' to such hooligan tactic and HOME/activists are backing them for using excuses such as missing family, can't take work stress, not given enough rest, not mentally prepared to fully deliver the jobscope as FDW, etc.

Other countries will try to protect their citizens' interest but in Spore, the policies showed foreigners are more important! 
How can I not be anti-PAP?
What and How did PAP (govt) try to help a person who is a special needs parent cum FDW's employer, trying hard to hold a full-time job in order to cope with Spore high living standards?

Health screenings for maids, 10 Mar 2014, The New Paper
Citing recent murders allegedly involving foreign domestic workers (FDWs) with psychological problems, Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam on Friday asked for mandatory psychological health tests for new FDWs.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi referred to the existing mandatory six-monthly health screenings and said it was "impractical to mandate a wide-ranging set of medical tests for all employers".  He said: "Individual employers with specific concerns should send their FDW for other suitable medical tests."

"Please think of the employers for a change," she said.  Mr Hawazi replied: "Mrs Chiam said that we have been giving her the same answer. I remember her asking the same question.  "The issue remains the same, that it is not very easy to detect a potential foreign domestic worker with psychological problems. We may be able to detect the worst cases."  He again referred to the compulsory health screening for FDWs, through which the doctor may be able to detect any psychological problem.

"On the cases that Mrs Chiam has referred to, especially the two recent cases, they are still under investigation by the police. I don't think we should comment on that," he said.

Mental health test for maids, The Straits Times, 14 Jan 2014
The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore is calling for psychological testing of maids before they arrive here, in a bid to raise the quality of workers.  Embassy counsellor Sukmo Yuwono told The Sunday Times that discussions on this issue with Indonesia's government body overseeing the deployment of foreign workers began late last year and are ongoing.

The push for such testing comes after recent high-profile murder cases involving maids in Singapore and elsewhere, he added.  Indonesian maids Nurhayati and Tuti Aeliyah were charged with the homicides of their employers' daughters in 2010 and late last year respectively.

"We learnt from some of the maids' murder cases especially, not just here but also in the Middle East and Malaysia, and we think that implementing psychological tests could go towards preventing such acts," said Mr Sukmo.  Indonesians make up about half of Singapore's foreign domestic worker (FDW) population, which numbers more than 211,000. There have been at least 16 reported homicide cases involving maids since 2002, and 12 of them are Indonesian.

Mr Sukmo, a lawyer by training, believes "the primary reason for these acts is mental, mostly depression", followed by underage issues and problems with employers. But weeding out potential criminals would only be a by-product of psychological testing.  Mr Sukmo said such testing would also help Indonesian agencies determine whether candidates are suited for the demanding nature of maids' work, carried out in foreign lands and strangers' homes, and often comprising caregiving for children or the elderly.

Improved selection procedures would, in turn, raise the quality of Indonesian maids coming here, and put the embassy in a better position to seek an increase in maids' minimum wage later this year, he said.  Indonesia made rule changes in 2012 to ensure its maids are paid at least $450 a month.  The plan is to begin psychological testing first for maids coming to Singapore, then extend it to those heading to other places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires maids to pass a medical examination before issuing them with work permits, but the exam mainly screens for infectious diseases. Psychological testing is not a key component.  "Given the different reasons employers have for engaging an FDW, it is impractical to prescribe a comprehensive standard for medical fitness," an MOM spokesman told The Sunday Times.

"Employers are also free to send the FDW for any other suitable tests before commencing with employment of the FDW." Mr William Chew, executive director of the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training, supports having one more layer of screening.  "Everybody benefits," he said. "You want to make sure the FDW coming here has the right mindset and mental health to do a job like this."

Mr Edmund Pooh, managing director of maid agency Universal Employment Agency, favours such testing but is concerned about how the additional costs would be distributed. He suggested keeping the cost low to encourage the practice of testing. He also urged the MOM "to implement regular feedback sessions" with maids after arrival as their mental health could change under the stresses of the job.

Psychologist Anja Wessels, lead investigator for an FDW mental health survey here, cautioned that testing would not be a foolproof measure to prevent criminal acts but was "a step in the right direction".  "When looking at mental health, there are several adverse factors. Beyond genetics, there are also poverty and low education levels," she said.

"Compared with FDWs of other nationalities, those from Indonesia tend to be less educated and of poorer backgrounds, hence more pre-disposed to these risk factors."  In addition, a significant number of Indonesian maids come here without being vetted, said Mr Sukmo. The Indonesian Labour Ministry records showed last year that about 30 per cent or 36,000 of the 120,000 Indonesian maids in Singapore were directly hired by employers who did not engage agents.

MP Zaqy Mohamad, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said psychological testing is "definitely worth considering, especially as it would give employers peace of mind".

New maid killed employer
Indonesian maid charged with murder of 16 year old girl

Maids turn suicidal, 17 Jan 2014, MyPaper
At least three maids who have attempted suicide - two by cutting their wrists and the third by swallowing a bottle of diabetes medication which caused her to go into a coma - have knocked on the door of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) for help.

To gain a better understanding of the mental health of domestic workers here, the civil-society group is studying the mental stresses faced by 400 maids here.  Home's chief, Ms Bridget Tan, said that the group hopes to use the findings to recommend changes in government policies, laws and regulations to better protect the mental well-being of such workers.

The study began in November and was prompted by growing concern over the current situation.
While such extreme cases of attempted suicide are fortunately few and far between, Ms Tan said that complaints of homesickness and verbal abuses from employers have remained common over the years. "(These) cause the women to become dispirited and unable to cope with daily chores," she said.

Eight out of 10 maids who approach Home for help come with stress-related problems
The study, which consists of 104 survey questions, is being conducted by volunteers.
It touches on topics such as working conditions and employer and family relationships. The study also attempts to discern whether one might be displaying symptoms associated with poor mental health.  The organisation has been reaching out to domestic workers by distributing fliers at popular congregation points, as well as at its events and its school.

Maids with mental-health issues have made the headlines in the past.
In 2005, a Filipino maid killed a fellow maid who owed her $2,000, later dumping her body parts at Orchard MRT station and MacRitchie Reservoir. She was later found to be mentally unsound at the time of the killing.  In that same year, an Indonesian maid - later diagnosed as moderately depressed - shoved her employer out of a window after she was chided, killing the woman.

Send maids for psychiatric evaluation, 2 Mar 2014, New Straits Times Malaysia
Families should send maids for psychiatric evaluation if they suspect something is amiss.  This better safe than sorry approach could prevent unwanted occurrences, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

Referring to the tragedy in Taman Sri Putra, Sungai Buloh, earlier this week, when an Indonesian maid slit the throats of two children under her care before killing herself, Rohani said apart from the maid's physical health, employers should also be mindful of the mental well-being of the hired help.

In that incident, the victims' family had claimed that the maid, identified only as Agnes, was affectionate with the children and had displayed no signs of psychological.  Rohani said the maid could have shown signs of psychological problems, but it could have gone undetected.

"The parents are understandably traumatised. We have done what we can to ensure that they are in stable condition to help them come to terms with their loss," she said.  Rohani said hiring a maid was a huge task as it involved caring for a family, especially children.  "In most companies, prospective employees get a three-month period before they are confirmed. But the same isn't practised when it comes to maids.

"Maid agencies also play a pivotal role.

Screen maids and bosses for mental health: maid association, The Star/Asia News Network Malaysia, 27 Feb 2014

This comes in light of the gruesome case involving an Indonesian maid who allegedly slit the throats of two stepbrothers, aged one and five, before killing herself in Sungai Buloh on Tuesday.

"Currently, maids from Indonesia undergo general medical check-ups by the Indonesian authorities before being sent to Malaysia.  "However, this does not include mental health screening. It should be mandatory for both parties - the maid and employer," he said yesterday.  Engku Ahmad advised employers to go through the proper channels to employ maids and avoid resorting to illegal means, which may lead them to hire untrained and unsuitable maids.

He said Mama planned to start a one-day orientation course for maids and their employers this year to prevent misunderstandings between both parties.  "Most employers do not know how to manage their maids and give proper orders to them. The course will help foster a better work relationship between them," he said.

Malaysian Asso­ciation of Foreign Maid Agencies president Jeffrey Foo said about 100,000 maids were brought into the country via the Journey Perform (JP) Visa, which was no longer allowed in Malaysia.  "These women have not gone through proper training and thus are not suitable to work as maids. They are like 100,000 time bombs waiting to explode in similar ways," he said.


Currently, a first-time maid must go for a health screening for tuberculosis, HIV, syphilis and malaria within 14 days of arrival here, to ensure that she does not have these infectious diseases and is generally fit to work.

She must then go for a six-monthly health screening for these diseases and to check that she is not pregnant.  However, as some maids may come from complicated backgrounds, such as broken or abusive families, or have been abused by previous employers, they may not be in the right frame of mind to work for certain groups of people.

For example, to protect employers, all first-time maids should go for a mental health check before being employed. If a maid is found to have mental health issues, she should go for three- or six-monthly checks.  If her situation does not improve even after treatment, then the maid agency should warn the employer or, better still, repatriate the maid and find a new one for the employer at no extra cost.

Such checks would be especially important for maids who have to care for the elderly, the mentally infirm, people with disabilities or those with low IQ.  If the maid passes her mental health check, she would not need to go for the periodic checks, unless the employer finds that her psychological health has changed significantly, for example, from being a bubbly person to a hot-tempered one.

Maid agencies must ensure maids are fit to work here, TODAY, 15 Apr 2014
I read with disappointment and sadness that a foreign domestic worker has been charged with the murder of her employer. (“Parents of maid charged with murder to travel to S’pore to assist in probe”; April 11)

Maid agencies in Singapore have a duty to ensure that all maids are physically and mentally fit, as well as trained, before they work here. Their ages should also be verified as there have been reports of maids who are younger than the age stated in their passport.  If not, more of such crimes would surely recur.

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This blog is not meant for screw-lose activists or loans. My blog aims to gather all FDWs' news scattered everywhere, become a one-stop site for mentally & financially bullied FDWs' employer to beware and learn. Don't pollute this blog with your pro-maid, insensible and selfish comments! Activists posting here are BLIND IDIOTS, IRRITATING freaks and deliberately showing no RESPECT for others... robbing our only breathing space.