A Review of the Philippine Policies on Mental Health of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)
The Philippines has been lauded for its labor-export programs and is deemed as a global model of migration by other countries. With the economic and employment challenges in the country, seeking work opportunities overseas becomes a promising option. Numerous policies bring forth to the creation of government agencies that focus on labor protection and welfare promotion of migrant workers here and in their host countries, which include advancement of mental health. This paper aims to review and identify the gaps of regulatory policies that intersect the phases of migration: pre-deployment, deployment, and reintegration. Statistics and anecdotal data show that cases of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are increasing given the presence of adverse working conditions across the continents. This problem is compounded by cultural stigma and financial inaccessibility of seeking mental health services. Post-repatriation issues, particularly the concerns on socio-economic reintegration is further noted. Thus, the management of mental health among OFWs calls for a comprehensive review of our existing policies and the delineation of the interrelated responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders for effective multisectoral program implementation. Synchronized endeavors of different agencies for efficient handling of psychosocial programs for OFWs in all stages of deployment is needed. Realistic and sustainable programs to address mental health issues are attainable through collaborative actions, with the foresight of focusing on prevention rather than treatment.