MANILA, Philippines — The Filipina seafarer who died in an apparent suicide should lead to greater awareness of the need to ensure the mental welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) awaiting repatriation, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Friday.
Bello also expressed sympathy over the demise of 28-year-old Mariah Jocson, who “set sail as a proud OFW last March 2019, filled with all the hopes and dreams of any young Filipino.”
An assistant waiter for the cruise ship Rhapsody of the Seas, Jocson was found lifeless in her cabin on board the ship Harmony of the Seas in Barbados, where she was transferred for repatriation purposes.
“We share the grief of the family of Filipino seafarer Mariah Jocson. She set sail as a proud OFW last March 2019, filled with all the hopes and dreams of any young Filipino. Her loss brings us heartbreak and grief, and we express our deepest sympathies, prayers, and support to her family,” Bello said in a statement.
“The circumstances of her untimely passing need to heighten greater awareness and advocacy on psycho-social needs and mental wellness of our OFWs awaiting repatriation,” he added.
Bello underscored the need to find a way to facilitate the immediate return of OFWs to the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Second, an array of counseling and helpline services should always be available to our OFWs, especially those still on board cruise ships,” the labor secretary said.
According to Bello, he has already directed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the concerned licensed manning agency to immediately get in touch with Jocson’s family and “assure them of all the support, assistance, and benefits.”
For counseling, the labor chief advised OFWs to reach OWWA through Hotline 1348, with referral systems to the following mental wellness helplines:
Ugat Foundation – 0283700239/ FB: contactUGATsandaline
HOPELINE Philippines – 09188734673/ 09175584673
National Center for Mental Health – 09178998727/ 029898727
Philippine Red Cross – Hotline 1158
Konsulta MD – 79880 (Globe TM)/ 0277988000 (non-Globe/TM)
Bofill Psychological Services – 09238447755/ FB: BPS Psychological Services
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