UM and Caritas to conduct mental health aid project for overseas Filipino workers

The University of Macau (UM) and charity association Caritas Macau will jointly hold a mental health monitoring and assistance project designed for overseas Filipino workers in Macau from August to December of this year.

Through the project local Filipino workers will be invited to use a mobile app – named ‘Kumusta, Kabayan’ – set to understand and improve their mental health conditions.

According to the project announcement, the app was originally developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for populations with limited access to mental health services, but with the help of researchers at universities and social organisations, different language versions of the system, including a Chinese version, have been developed and tested in different regions of the world.

With Macao Foundation support and the help of UM researchers, Caritas now adapted the system to the local Filipino community, however, a version for Chinese communities is expected to be launched in the future.

‘The app can provide useful information and resources for workers who want to learn more about their mental health. The app is expected to help them improve their well-being and overcome challenges in their daily lives. Users of the app can monitor their health condition by answering health-related questions on a weekly basis,’ the organisation indicated.

Starting August 9, Caritas Macau will hold onsite recruitment for the project every Sunday this month at local churches, at its service centre, or at the Philippine Consulate General in Macau SAR.

The programme welcomes all oversea Filipino workers who are aged 18 or above and speak English or Tagalog, with applicants having to hold a valid working visa for the city, are planning to stay for at least six months, and have a smartphone with internet access.

As of June of this year, there were a total of 33,191 Filipino non-resident workers in the SAR, Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) data indicates.

In 2018 the Global and Community Mental Health Research Group at the University of Macau also co-launched the first online intervention program designed for local Filipino overseas workers in order to provide access to psychotherapy intervention in Tagalog.