Migrant workers suffer from a wide range of mental disorders, caused by their working situation, tells author Zhang Lijia at the CNN-website. Her findings are based on recent research by Yu Cheng,Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou. More action on the workplace is needed.
Cheng said he first noticed this issue five years ago when he conducted research on the mental health of sex workers in the region, most of whom worked at factories before turning to prostitution.
In 2010, the issue made international headlines after a spate of worker suicides at Foxconn, a large electronic manufacturer that assembles many Apple products, making the professor determined to find out the root causes of the workers’ mental health problems.
Loneliness and a sense of isolation were reported to be among the reasons that drove the workers to jump off factory and dormitory roofs.
Though the focus of Cheng’s research was in the southern province of Guangdong, the mental health of migrants is likely to be similar elsewhere in the country.
Some 260 million Chinese farmers have left their villages and to work in cities, according to the China Labour Bulletin.
Despite their contribution to China’s economic miracle, the social status of these migrant workers remains low…
The government recently announced plans to relax the control over hukou system in a bid to narrow the gap between rural and urban areas and to help migrants assimilate better into the city life. But the process will be a long and slow one.
“We just have to pay more attention to mental diseases as they can lead to suicide,” said Cheng.
He recommends compulsory mental health testing in the workplace and a practice he calls “positive psychological intervention” — setting up hotlines and counseling services and providing workers with more opportunities to socialize.