Maintaining a sound mental health is necessary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to overcome the extraordinary challenges brought by the global pandemic. This was underscored in the recently conducted webinar by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Singapore for OFWs.

“Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) require stronger response to COVID-19. This pandemic makes them long more for their loved ones as they fear losing their job and worry about the future. It also makes them feel anxious about hospitalization expenses as well as the absence of family members in the event they contract the disease,” webinar resource speaker Dr. Aura Antonio, who is a counsellor and psychotherapist, said.

She noted that understanding mental health response to COVID-19 is important for OFWs given the lack of access to health care and mental support and inadequate information about the disease in the OFW’s primary language. To cope with anxiety and depression in a pandemic, Antonio advised the OFWs to eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, have plenty of sleep, connect with people who make one happy, take breaks, stay informed and seek help when needed. OFWs should know that they are loved, given importance and celebrated, she said.

Labor Attaché Saul De Vries said that raising mental health awareness among OFWs has become even more imperative during this difficult period. “The Philippine Embassy and POLO have received countless calls from OFWs in Singapore who sounded anxious and depressed during the height of the COVID-19 situation in Singapore,” he said.

De Vries cited the importance of the webinar as he thanked Antonio for sharing her time and expertise on mental health and for assuring the OFWs in Singapore of her readiness to help them achieve mental wellbeing. Attended by 50 OFWs,  the webinar was held last 18 November 2020 via the Zoom video platform and streamed live on Facebook. — ###