Labor Migration and Mental Health in Cambodia: A Qualitative Study


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Abstract

Labor migration is thought to have significant mental and physical health impacts, given the risks for exploitation and abuse of migrant workers, particularly among those in semiskilled and unskilled positions, although empirical data are limited. This qualitative study, conducted in July 2010 in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia, focused on psychosocial and mental health signs and symptoms associated with labor migration among Cambodian migrant workers to Thailand. Two qualitative methods identified a number of mental health problems faced by Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, including the presence of anxiety and depression-like problems among this population, described in local terminology as pibak chet (sadness), keut chreun (thinking too much), and khval khvay khnong chet (worry in heart). Key informants revealed the extent to which psychosocial well-being is associated with conditions of poverty, including debt and lack of access to basic services.

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