October 29, 2020

COVID-19 and economic downfall reveal migrant workers’ mental health crisis in Lebanon

In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown and the economic crisis in Lebanon, the mental health and well-being of migrant workers has severely deteriorated.

Access to healthcare by migrant workers is very restricted in Lebanon, due to the nature of the employment model to which they are tied – known as the Kafala system – which makes them dependent on a sponsor. The mental health of migrant workers – many of whom are young women – reflects the hardships they have endured while living and working in Lebanon.  

Migrant workers are often subjected to long working hours, low wages, and restrictions on their movements and on their communication with the outside world, poor living conditions and a lack of privacy.

The onset of the COVID-19 lockdown – which came on top of the ongoing economic crisis in Lebanon – saw a dramatic decline in migrant workers’ conditions and is having a dire impact on their physical and mental health.

SEMA US has launched an emergency clinic for women and children affected by the crisis and who are in need of medical care. It receives an average of 100 patients a day for medical consultations. SEMA US provides social, mental and medical assessments and refers patients to partner clinics when needed. 

Migrant workers, including those without legal status in the country, should have access to comprehensive health services – including mental healthcare. In the current context of economic collapse and COVID-19, the provision of these services is urgently needed.

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