Peer-Based Mental Health Services for Domestic Workers

Sudev (2017), How to implement peer-based mental health services for foreign domestic workers in Singapore?, sets a positive way forward for Singapore in coping with the lack of mental health options available for this group of individuals.  As a Singaporean I support this idea, and am open to help in any way possible.

Foreign domestic workers (FDW) are a group vulnerable to severe mental stressors due to the nature of their employment. The article cites previously published studies, many by researchers from Singaporean institutions.

Risk factors identified regarding the mental health problems amongst FDWs are:

  • homesickness,
  • a lack of social support,
  • communication-related barriers, marginalization,
  • isolation,
  • lack of personal control and privacy,
  • employer restrictions and abuse.

Due to lack of support, the FDWs do not have an avenue to speak out, due to fear of deportation, and losing savings that they have invested in, in order to  get the jobs. Many regard approaching someone for help regarding a mental health issue as compromising their jobs.

“Despite this vulnerability, FDWs face substantial barriers to seeking help when experiencing mental health problems. This is due to their marginalized status in Singapore, an inadequate legal protection with a resulting fear of deportation due to ill health (including mental illness) and the lack of available formal psychosocial support services for migrants (Huang & Yeoh, 2003; Ueno, 2009).”

Delivery of psychological therapies by peers

Paraprofessionals are peers belonging to the community of concern are trained by professionals to provide necessary interventions to members of the group. In the field of mental health, psychological therapies are made available to a wider population through this system.
This allows the necessary services and treatment to be available efficiently and cost effectively to those who really need them. These paraprofessionals may, in some cases, also be better suited to work with the group, because of their relatedness to the culture of the  group.
This practice also provides the group with self-empowerment.

Encouraging Results from Study

The paper illustrates the steps in detail on how the first paraprofessionals were trained, and the results of the training. The result shows a positive step forward, and this is encouraging.



Sudev, S.  Wessels, A.,  Wong, H.M. & Keng, S-L. (2017). How to implement peer-based mental health services for foreign domestic workers in Singapore?. Retrieved from: