Returning migrant workers dogged by mental problems
It is commonplace to find that returning migrant workers suffer from mental problems, as the majority of them work in abusive enviroments.
Migrant workers can work abroad only if they pass physical and psychological tests conducted by the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers Agency (BNP2TKI), but recruiting companies have breached these regulations and have sent those who are prone to abuse.
“I don’t know the exact number of migrant workers who suffer from mental disorders, but reports indicate the figure is on the increase,” the Health Ministry’s director for psychological health, Diah Setia Utami said in a press briefing
As of this year, the number of Indonesian migrant workers who are currently working abroad has reached 6 million, comprising 4.2 million workers officially registered and 2 million unregistered, according to data from the BNP2TKI. More than 90 percent of these migrant workers are women.
Diah said migrant workers are prone to mental, physical and even sexual abuse, that might adversely impact their mental condition and worsen the quality of their lives.
“Continuous psychological pressures they experience while working abroad can cause depression and psychosis, and can even spark suicidal tendencies,” said Diah.
Separately, psychiatrist Lina R. Mangaweang said she treated returning female migrant workers who were suffered from psychosis, one of the most serious forms of mental illness, at the Duren Sawit Hospital in Kali Malang, East
“They experienced various forms of abuse from physical and sexual attacks, psychological abuse, poor working conditions and long work ing hours and were not compensated for their work. Some of them became depressed after their money was taken by thugs on their way home,” said Lina, who is also the Health Ministry’s health service facilities sub-directorate chief, who worked as a psychiatrist at the hospital for 6 years.
Some patients with mental problems could recover from their illness by taking antipsychotic, antianxiety and antidepressant for a short period of time.
In other cases, patients had to take medication for life.
“It depends on the conditions of each person. Some people may have a predisposition towards psychosis. It will be much more difficult for us to cure patients with strong tendencies in psychic disorders,” she said.
Lina said that psychological tests on departing migrant workers would be critical to preventing more severe mental problems that they might suffer due to poor working conditions,” she said.