A Helping Hand (Guide To Helping Your Domestic Helper)

Depression, as given by Oxford Dictionaries, is identified as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.” Correspondingly, it is classified as a “serious yet common medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act” provided by the American Psychiatric Association. It is a debilitating illness that is not conceived as unconventional in any way, in fact, many individuals tend to struggle with it by the day. However, while the vast majority of our population is aware of such factual information, what we choose to shy away from, is the fact that members who play their roles as the engine of Hong Kong’s working class tend to profusely be victims of this struggle.


Image result for depression domestic helpers

“40,000 Helpers Suffer From Mental Health Problems.”, http://www.ofwpinoystar.com/40000-domestic-helpers-suffer-mental-health-problems/

Whether it is due to the tendency to crave home – homesickness, the lack of freedom due to Hong Kong’s confining “live-in rule” or even the loss of a family member, it is no secret that Domestic Helpers of Hong Kong are more likely to be subject to depression. A survey done by the Caritas Community Development Service exemplified this issue, showing through statistics that 33% of the participants proclaim their struggle through symptoms of depression. Not only does this mental illness restrict domestic helpers from having a rejuvenating time on their days off, but diminishes their work ethic, possibly becoming lethargic or easily exhausted.


As an employer, understand that their demoralization has radical reasoning – as is for everybody else, and take it easy on assigning your domestic helper daily chores. Sounds challenging? Here are a few tips to help you aid your domestic helper through the path of recovery.


Step 1. Recognise the symptoms.


Image result for depression cartoon

Understanding Depression, Oct 20 2014, https://aspergersontoast.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/depression-by-cartoon/

Recognising the primary symptoms are integral towards determining whether your domestic helper requires support. For further expertise regarding this matter, visit link 1 and link 2.  Provided as a supplementary material is a depression/anxiety symptom deterministic checklist. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety-and-depression-checklist-k10


Step 2. Don’t determine the mental illness on a basis of pure assumption


Related image

Why Our Mental Health Takes a Village,  Bernstein Elizabeth, Jan 22 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-our-mental-health-takes-a-village-1516640136


Once you think you’ve been able to recognize the underlying symptoms of depression, the one way and only way to be thoroughly secured on your premonition is to just ask. Your domestic helper might feel unease, and you do have to comprehend that matter. Do not force him/her to inform you upon something they wish not to.


Now you might ask, how exactly should I ask her/him without them feeling like my statement is an accusation? For starters, call them out individually for a mere casual talk. Don’t ask him/her in front of a large group, or with unfamiliar individuals present, preventing the conversation to identify as a verdict of accusation, a factor of embarrassment, or a situation of unease.


Ease into it. Avoid jumping straight into the topic, you don’t want the conversation to seem sudden and abrupt. Starting with “How have you been feeling recently?” or even a simple, benevolent “Are you okay?” can jumpstart the spark into a fulfilling conversation.


Step 3. Indirect Help

Related image

Social Media Mental Health, Cartwright Ashley, Jan 14 2018, https://www.houseofsolo.co.uk/social-media-mental-health/

It is understandable that employers are not always in the best position to help their domestic helper. If you find yourself unable to aid her/him, redirect them to organizations that can actively listen to their anxieties and provide professional counseling services.


Below are a few of the many different organizations available for counseling or group support services:







Step 4. NO means NO

Image result for no

No cross, April 13 2012 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:No_Cross.svg  

In any given circumstance, do not insist that your domestic helper has a mental illness if she/he claims otherwise. Continue providing them with incessant support, but do not sign her/him up for counseling sessions/events that they did not fully consent towards. Do not add any attributes of surprise when suspected someone is dealing with a mental illness, because it is improbable that your domestic helper will agree with what you have done. Do not promulgate this information to other members of your family without your domestic helper’s approval, it stands as a violation and a breach of their entitled privacy. What you can do is act as a friend or a support system.


Step 5. Time, Support and Patience


Related image

Readers digest,, Cameron  Meaghan https://www.rd.com/funny-stuff/16-new-years-resolution-cartoons/

Mental illness is not an occurrence or a misfortune solvable with abrupt, short-term, ineffective solutions. It calls for immense amounts of time, support, and patience from the individuals whom the domestic helper is surrounded with. Allow him/her to have a full, 24 hour rest day per week. That is, in fact, required by domestic laws, though it is violated by many employers by setting a curfew and requiring the domestic helper to work as they arrive home. As your domestic helper arrives home, permit him/her to take a rest or even watch some television with the family, this will not only allow the overall relationship between employer and helper to excel, but will be a crucial aspect to allowing your domestic helper to wind down for the night, rewind for the day ahead and receive an articulated rest.

“Depression | Definition of Depression in English by Oxford Dictionaries.”, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/depression.
“Third of HK Foreign Maids show Symptoms of Depression: NGO.”, Aug 14, 2017, http://www.atimes.com/article/third-hk-foreign-maids-show-symptoms-depression-ngo/.
“What Is Depression?”, Jan, 2017,


Writer – Chloe Jazzy Lau (2018)
Citations – Jacqueline Chong (2018)

WEcarehelpers seeks to build a suitable working environment for domestic helpers, and allow sufficient help towards employers. Call or Whatsapp 54077468 or 60861984 for further inquiries