What is the mental health of your domestic worker like?

Did you see the video of the girl from Myanmar that jumped from a high building?
What went through your mind after you saw that?

Are you:

Or just confused, and don’t know what to feel & say?

Dear employers,

As a Domestic worker I just want to say
Please take a look at this case
Which does not stand alone here
There were many more cases like her out there
This is a chance for you to learn about Domestic Worker’s rights
We are workers
We are humans
You hire us to work, and you pay us for that
We have the right to communicate with our family & friends
We have the right to get a day off
We have the right to meet with our community

If we make a mistake
Of course you have the right to admonish us and tell us what we did wrong
But what you have to know
Is that before we came here to work with you
We already struggled to learn
Learn about your culture
Learn how to do the house chores as you order
Or even your language

Because of lack of education of domestic workers, including my own, this work is more difficult than you can imagine
And we are told that, if your employer is angry over a small mistake, even if you did not do it on purpose
The first thing you have to do is
Apologize or say sorry
We do already know how to respect the employer
We have already been told that we can’t demand too much
As a worker

We know this

But at least…
Treat us like a human
We need to be able to communicate with our family and friends
And give us a chance, to talk to you, when we find our work difficult
Please be aware about the risk for mental health issues
Which many domestic workers struggle with, when we don’t have anyone to talk to
If we have a problem,  we need someone to share it with, and help us find the solution

Being able to talk to other people, our friends, our family, will keep us healthy

We all know that we are here to work
And we are paid for that
And if you give us limited time to use phone, only after we finish our job
That is not too bad
We can still accept it
Please treat us as a human being
Respect us,
Just like you would want to be respected

 This piece was written by Novia, one of HOME helpdesk volunteers, who works as a domestic worker in Singapore herself.

10 thoughts on “What is the mental health of your domestic worker like?”

  1. Thank you for this insightful post. This poor young women’s life surely not be in vain but a lesson to everyone who lives with and cares for a FDW.

  2. Not all employers are the same but my suggestion is maybe the m.o.m provided group counseling or individual counseling in every after 6months. It might help to control the population who commit suicide. prevention is better than cure and that’s the power of counseling you can see the wounded outside part of your body but you have no idea what is struggling inside. People handling difficulty in their lives could easily develop anxiety, depression, and stress. We have to understand not in every circumstances that your money can save the life of others. We sometimes seeking for a good ears to listen, a good heart to understand, a good mouth of full of wisdom, a big wide arms to embrace your imperfection and give you moral support and last a good insight to help you to correct your mistakes instead of discriminating you and teach you how to live a life with hope.


  3. It was so sad to end a life of young and innocent domestic helper in that way..as she look like mentally stress..I just hope it would be a wake up call for the employers and domestic helpers these tragic incident..

  4. I worked in Sg for almost a decade for 3 employers.thou the experienced wasn’t that bad,I have to agree with the writer.There is more that needs to be done to address the plight of my fellow dh.yes we are workers, and to my fellow dh let us know our rights.

  5. Endeed! Thank you!

    I calling for the MOM to take a look to the helpers agents too.. Some agents consents inhuman treatment of employer to their helpers. If the helpers called their agents and tell the problem, then agents scoll to the helpers and say not nice words that cannot help the situation. There’s a lot of new helpers maltreatened by the employer and the agent specially the new comer helpers..
    I can say this because i had experienced like this when i was new her in Singapore..

    And also one of friend suffered more than i when she was working to the Singaporean employer.
    As a first timer and new join of the family, employers must gave a chance to their helper to learn whats their culture and everyday routines . But its too sad, because everytime my friend asks to the employer what she should do, the employer scolded her. Always shouting at her even they are in the public place.
    And when my friend tell to the agents about her situation and asking a help to talk to the employer to treatened her nicely, the agent give her choices: whether she will stay and continue working with the employer or whether she go back to Philippines without anything? And because my friend wanted to help her family she continues working until she paid her 8 months salary deduction then the employer send her back home and block her. (This happen year of 2010.)
    And this is very UNFAIR to us worker here in Singapore! Why the agents and maybe some of the staff in the MOM tolerate this kind of employers doing?
    Blocking to the helpers to enter again and work here is very injustice!
    Hope the MOM take a look on this situations also..

    As of now, yes MOM rules and regulations are better now than before. But what my friend experienced on here are really terrible and still happening right now… not the same as many before but some of them are still doing like this..

    1. Good day,
      It is very well said
      As a first timer working overseas is not that easy,some employers never understand, they just keep telling that no One forced us to work here, it’s true that it is our discission to work here but it doesn’t mean we are treated that way, it is not our intention to makes mistakes, in fact we really do our best to makes things right, but due to a new environment and surrounding that is why we are out of control. Hopefully this will be our learning point, let’s help one another.

    2. I don’t think the employer was that bad. I believe the worker has an attitude. If she had been loyal to her employer, I’m sure, the employer’s heart would have melted and wouldn’t have sent her back. As workers, we must also think not to cause our employers to be stressed. Be honest and good luck, workers!

  6. In my own experienced here in sg i agreed to the writer, most of the time im experiencing those unhuman attitude i just swallowed everything for the sake of earining money for the family,,,we respect them very much but they don’t even considering our own privacy yes they’re paying us to work but sometimes they’re abusing it imagine off day must clean the house first i accepted that but leaving the house 10am then comeback by 6pm what kind of day off is this?then sleeping hours must be 8hrs sleep ryt?but whAt i experienced is i always sleep late theyre not following the rules of mom, the worst experienced is i ironed more than 100s of clothes too much i just keep quite crying thinking that this is not forever and the God is always with me

    1. Dear fdw,Imagine my sister’s maid come back home at 10pm every of her off days with no initiative of cleaning up mess even not her off days and burden our family maid instead to clear the mess.

  7. I know some employer here especially have old folk stay ur employer’s house…its because they paid u must do ur work …thats ok because we come here for work.but…..some employer think and says….i paid u..u work very hard and follow what to tell u..u work as much as u can (work like buffalo working in a field)..u cant talk to some one,u cant use any phone,u cant go out…but….u buy etc etc. I give a couple of minute …then what u think?..about the food….give u a slice of bread at 9 or 10 am…lunch ….porridge about 4 to 5.pm…is it u can last in whole day?non stop nugging the helper even at the market or any crowded places…especially those helper cant speak english or not good in speak english….once the helper seeking for help to thier agency..agency do what(not all agency)instead they giving u advice they scolded u infront of employers..it seems like u the one who making wrong…i know some of helpers here thier experience to thier employer are horrible….mostly indonesian and myanmar…

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