DOLE to improve focus on OFWs’ mental wellness, psycho-social needs

By Leslie Ann G. Aquino

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the untimely passing of Filipino seafarer Mariah Jocson heightened the need for greater awareness and advocacy on the psycho-social needs and mental wellness of overseas Filipino workers awaiting repatriation.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./Presidential Photo / MANILA BULLETIN) Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

"First of all, we must find ways to facilitate their return," he said in a statement Friday, June 12.

"Second, an array of counseling and helpline services should always be available to our OFWs, especially those still onboard cruise ships," added Bello.

According to the Labor department, Jocson, an assistant waiter for the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas, was found lifeless in her cabin on board the ship Harmony of the Seas in Barbados, where she was transferred for repatriation purposes.

"She set sail as a proud OFW last March 2019, filled with all the hopes and dreams of any young Filipino. Her loss brings us heartbreak and grief, and we express our deepest sympathies, prayers, and support to her family," said Bello.

"We share the grief of the family of Filipino seafarer Mariah Jocson," he added.

Bello said he already directed the OWWA and the concerned licensed manning agency (LMA) to immediately get in touch with the family of Jocson and assure them of all the support, assistance, and benefits that could be extended by the government.

For those in need of counseling, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) can be reached through Hotline 1348, with referral systems to the following mental wellness helplines:

Ugat Foundation - 0283700239/ FB:contactUGATsandaline; HOPELINE Philippines - 09188734673/ 09175584673, the National Center for Mental Health - 09178998727/ 029898727, the Philippine Red Cross - Hotline 1158, Konsulta MD - 79880 (Globe TM)/ 0277988000 (non-Globe/TM), and Bofill Psychological Services - 09238447755/ FB: BPS Psychological Services