Filipina Guest Workers
They were the so-called professionals working as nurses, doctors, and medical technicians. In 1970s, Filipinos were in demand in industrialized countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia. They filled up the labor shortages in these countries and worked as construction workers, nannies, domestic workers, nurse and entertainers. The phenomenon in Philippine labor migration started during these years since large numbers of workers leave the country for employment.
Finally, some Filipinos who came to study and obtain professional experience in the health-care field remained in the United States after completing their training. In more recent years, the combination of the removal of national-origin quotas in U.S. immigration law in 1965, on the one hand, and Filipino policies that encouraged labor emigration, on the other, contributed to even higher levels of migration from the Philippines to the United States. The Filipino immigrant population increased fivefold from 105,000 to 501,000 between 1960 and 1980. From there, it nearly tripled to almost 1.4 million by 2000. Today, most Filipinos in the United States who obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR status, also known as getting a green card) do so through family reunification channels, either as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or through other family-sponsored channels. Many also get green cards through employment preferences. Meanwhile, Filipinos are more likely than other immigrants to have strong English skills and have much higher college education rates than the overall foreign- and U.S.-born populations. They are also more likely to be naturalized U.S. citizens than other immigrant groups, have higher incomes and lower poverty rates, and are less likely to be uninsured.
An individual’s ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status also intertwine with and influence the process of migration, adaptation to the host society and thus, mental health. Despite Filipinas being the largest group of non-EU immigrant women in Norway, little is known about their mental health. This study focuses on Filipinas living in Norway and explores the stress and distress experiences associated with being an immigrant woman and how these women cope with their difficulties. The Philippines is one of the biggest export countries of labour, with over 10 million Filipinos working or living abroad. Migration is encouraged by the government, since the sending home of remittances helps to support the country’s economy. In 2014, personal remittances from overseas Filipino workers accounted for 8.5% of the gross domestic product. Early labour migration consisted predominately of men but due to the changing global labour economy, women now outnumber men. In Norway, 80% of immigrants from the Philippines are women. Gender ideologies, including the traditional division of labour, shape migration patterns. Many Filipinas moving overseas help meet the shortage of skilled nurses as well as the demand for unskilled, low paid domestic work in high income countries (Llácer A, Zunzunegui MV, 2007). Increasingly, Filipinas also become the wives of men from high income countries, including Norway. It is not known if Filipinas’ underrepresentation is because they have better mental health, if their distress is not recognised by a professional, if they experience barriers to care or if they seek help elsewhere. An improved understanding of the factors that influence Filipinas’ mental health can help the identification of mental distress and effective coping, with implications for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems. The purpose of this exploratory qualitative study is to illuminate the contextual factors that influence immigrant Filipinas’ mental health and their coping strategies. Ethical approval was obtained from the Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics, West Norway.
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