Vital Yet Vulnerable: Mental And Emotional Health Of South Asian Migrant Workers In Singapore

2015 | Unmet Social Needs Download the Report

Numbering nearly one million persons, low-waged, low-skilled migrant workers are a vital yet vulnerable part of Singapore's economy and society. This study, undertaken several months before the Little India riots of December 2013, measures the psychological state of 261 South Asian Work Permit holders, and 344 South Asian injury and salary claim workers. While most regular Work Permit holders are relatively happy and healthy, our study finds that 62% of injury and salary claim workers meet the screening conditions for a Serious Mental Illness.

The three main drivers at psychological distress are:

  1. The housing problems of injury and salary claim workers
  2. Threats or repatriation against both injured and regular workers
  3. Agent fee debt

A range of policy options are recommended to address these problems, including alternative housing for injury and salary claim workers, delinking Work Permit holders' visas and employment contracts, and regulation of offshore migration agents.