UA&P Associate Professor Dr. Veronica E. Ramirez has been making the rounds around the country, conducting a series of policy forums on the detection and treatment of mental health problems among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Dr. Ramirez has presented her research study entitled “Patterns of Detection and Treatment of Mental Health Problems among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs): Implications to Psychosocial Support Services” to representatives of government agencies, city governments, and the private sector in Pampanga, National Capital Region, and Cebu, and is set to meet the South Cotabato and Laguna audiences in March.

The research study, funded by the Health Research Policy Translation, Evaluation, and Engagement (POLISEE) Grants Program of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) in collaboration with the Center for Research and Communication (CRC), investigated the common processes, services, and practices in the detection and treatment of OFW mental health problems in the different stages of migrant work: pre-deployment, employment, and return.

The results reveal that what is more appropriate to migrant work, more than a psychological test, is a psychosocial evaluation that can measure readiness for overseas work, which includes indicators of multicultural, socioeconomic, emotional, and psychological attributes. The study has also determined the major stressors and psychosocial factors that affect the OFWs’ well-being in their country of work due to work environment, job content, organizational conditions, and the workers’ capacities, needs, culture, and personal conditions.

The study recommends the use of a psychosocial evaluation to determine the applicant’s readiness for overseas work; intensive awareness campaigns to break the barriers to help-seeking practices on mental health; and the establishment of more psychiatric clinics with more expert personnel, facilities, and medication in the regions with a large number of OFW families. 

The NCR policy forum held at the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) on February 15 was attended by officers and representatives of the DOST, DOST-PCHRD, Department of Health (DOH), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), UP CIFAL, city governments of Quezon City and Makati, UA&P faculty, and Surewell Equities, Inc. 

The program for policy forums on OFW mental health and well-being protection across the country is under the DOST-PCHRD project “The Development of Policy Instruments and Stakeholder Engagements for OFW Inclusive and Sustainable Mental Health and Well-Being Protection” headed by Dr. Ramirez.

After the March forums, Dr. Ramirez will be presenting the policy recommendations to legislators and other migrant work stakeholders.