‘I doubt myself and am losing everything I have since COVID came’ : The case study of mental health and coping strategies among undocumented Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand

Khai TUAL SAWN (Presenter), Muhammad ASADUZZAMAN (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


Migrant population have always been vulnerable for high burden of social exclusion, mental disorders, physical illness and economic crisis. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further created the frantic plight among them, particularly for the undocumented migrant workers in global south. We have conducted a mixed method study among the undocumented Myanmar migrant workers (UMMWs) in Thailand to explore how the COVID-19 disruption has impacted on their mental health and what are the coping strategies adopted by them. Following the onset of COVID19 and the recent coup d'etat in Myanmar, our current study is the first attempt to understand the mental health status and predicament of this neglected migrant group. A total of 398 UMMWs were included in the online survey among whom 23 participated in qualitative interviews. The major mental health issues reported by the study participants were depression, generalised anxiety disorder, frustration, stress and panic disorder while loss of employment, worries about the pandemic, social stigma, refused access to healthcare, lockdown and fear of detention were the predominant contributing factors. In response, we identified two key coping mechanisms- coping at personal layer (listening to music, playing online game, praying, self-motivation) and social layer (chatting with family and friends, visiting religious institutions). These findings point to the importance of policy and intervention programs aimed to uphold mental health at such humanitarian conditions. Sustainable institutional mental health care support and social integration for the migrant workers irrespective of their legal status should be ensured.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022
EventHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference: Health and Wellbeing in (Post-) Pandemic Times - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Duration: 3 Dec 20223 Dec 2022
Conference number: 23


ConferenceHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference
CityHong Kong
OtherAs an unprecedented public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the focal concern of sociologists around the world. Globally, there have been over six hundred million confirmed cases, including over six million of deaths. Over the past few years, we have experienced the tremendous impacts brought by the pandemic on various domains of life. Apart from infected and death cases, we have seen a surge of mental health issues, suicides, domestic violence, as well as plummeting economic growth and escalating unemployment and poverty rates. Whether to embrace the “new normal” by easing public health and social distancing measures is a contentious issue as much among world leaders as ordinary citizens. From a sociological perspective, most impacts brought by the pandemic are believed to be structural and long lasting. As not everyone has equal access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, healthcare and other resources, health and social inequalities are expected to be worsening. There are also concerns about the lack of affordable childcare and technological equipment for attending online classes during pandemic times, which would have lingering effects on education, digital, and social inequalities across generations.

Against this background, this conference aims to address the pressing issues of health and wellbeing in pandemic and post-pandemic times from a sociological perspective. It provides a platform for scholars, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the implications of the pandemic for health and social inequalities among other issues. On that basis, participants will explore practical and policy responses to enhance health and wellbeing in the (post-)pandemic condition.
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