DMW Psychosocial Counseling for Distressed OFWs

When life abroad gets tough, the support of psychosocial counseling can prove to be a source of hope for our distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). This service caters specifically to Filipinos working abroad who face overwhelming challenges like financial hardships, employer exploitation, and severe health issues.

Through psychosocial counseling, our kababayans receive emotional and psychological assistance to help them cope with the isolation and stress of living and working far from home. For those OFWs feeling lost or overwhelmed, this counseling aims to offer not just immediate relief but practical coping mechanisms, fostering resilience amidst adversity. 

psychosocial counselling
Credits: Philippine Red Cross / Facebook

What is a Distressed OFW?

A distressed OFW refers to a Filipino worker abroad who faces severe challenges that compromise their safety and security. These challenges may include financial difficulties, exploitation by employers, healthcare issues, and lack of access to essential services, hence the need for timely assistance including psychosocial counseling, most of the time. Distressed OFWs are in urgent need of support to navigate these obstacles and improve their situation.

Significance of the Service

Psychosocial counseling for distressed Overseas Filipino Workers is essential due to the significant mental health challenges they face and the economic and social impact they have on the Philippines. Statistics from the Philippine Statistics Authority show millions of Filipinos working abroad, many in potentially stressful or exploitative situations. Research indicates a high prevalence of depression, loneliness, and anxiety among Filipinos working abroad. The Philippine Mental Health Act (Republic Act 11036) emphasizes the importance of mental health services for all Filipinos, and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has been reported to be offering psychosocial aid in some cases. Given the vast numbers of Filipinos working abroad and the potential consequences of their distress on their well-being and the well-being of their families back home, widespread and accessible psychosocial counseling services are essential.

Legal Basis for Support

The protection and care for OFWs are grounded in several Philippine laws and regulations. Key among these are the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act No. 8042), which establishes the rights and welfare standards for our kababayans, and the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), which coordinates all government services related to overseas employment.

Benefits for Distressed OFWs

Distressed OFWs have access to a variety of programs designed to aid them in times of need. Benefits include:

  • Repatriation Assistance: Facilitates the return of Filipinos working abroad to the Philippines during crises.
  • Legal Assistance: Provides support in cases of employment disputes or abuse.
  • Financial Aid: Offers emergency financial assistance to those in dire need.
  • Healthcare Services: Access to medical and psychological assistance to address health concerns.

Eligibility / Qualifications

  • To qualify for these benefits, Filipinos working abroad must be officially registered with the OWWA before their deployment. 
    • Those facing illegal recruitment, labor rights violations, or other forms of distress while working abroad are eligible for assistance.


OFWs seeking assistance must provide:

  • Valid identification (e.g., passport, OFW ID)
  • Proof of employment (e.g., employment contract)
  • Official reports or documentation of the distress situation

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Benefit from Psychosocial Support Services

1. Identify the Need for Support:

Recognize the signs of distress such as feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, or difficulties coping with daily life abroad. Acknowledging the need for help is the first crucial step towards recovery.

2. Reach Out to Your Local Philippine Embassy or Consulate:

Contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate for immediate assistance. They can provide initial counseling and direct you to specific programs tailored to OFW needs.

3. Register with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) or OWWA:

Ensure that you are registered with the DMW or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Registration is essential as it allows you to access various services offered by these agencies, including psychosocial aid.

4. Submit Required Documentation:

Prepare and submit necessary documents that may include your passport, OFW ID, proof of employment, and any relevant medical reports or documentation that outline your mental health concerns. These documents are crucial in assessing your situation and tailoring the assistance to your needs.

5. Apply for Psychosocial Support Services:

Fill out any applications or forms required to request psychosocial aid. Be specific about the type of assistance you need, whether it’s counseling, stress debriefing, or other mental health services.

6. Participate in Scheduled Counseling Sessions:

Once approved, participate in the counseling sessions provided. These might be offered online or in-person, depending on your location and the resources of the agency providing the assistance.

7. Engage in Follow-Up Services:

Stay engaged with the counseling process and attend any follow-up sessions as recommended. Continuous engagement can help manage issues effectively and provide ongoing help in your recovery journey.

8. Utilize Additional Resources:

Besides individual counseling, explore other resources such as support groups, stress management workshops, and community programs designed for our kababayans. These can enhance your coping strategies and provide a support network of individuals facing similar challenges.

9. Evaluate and Adjust Support as Needed:

Regularly assess the effectiveness of the assistance received and communicate with your counselor or support provider about any adjustments needed to improve the assistance.

10. Stay Informed About Your Rights and Benefits:

Keep yourself informed about your rights and the full range of benefits available to you as an OFW. Awareness can empower you to seek appropriate help and make informed decisions regarding your mental health and overall well-being.

Recent Updates

Thousands of Filipinos Affected by Earthquake in Taiwan, Government Offers Assistance

Around 5,000 Filipinos, primarily overseas Filipino workers, were affected by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Hualien County, Taiwan. While three Filipinos sustained minor injuries, the government is providing assistance, including psychosocial counseling if needed, to those affected by the earthquake.

First Batch of Repatriated OFWs from Israel Receives Government Assistance

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) welcomes the first batch of repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers from Israel, providing them with financial aid, aid from various government programs, and other forms of assistance. The repatriated Filipinos working abroad express their gratitude to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the repatriation programs and government assistance. The DMW assures them that their insurance benefits and other claims will be facilitated, and they will have the option to return to Israel when the situation improves.

Philippine Embassy in Israel Coordinates with Philippine Red Cross to Provide Assistance and Counseling

The Philippine Embassy in Israel holds a coordination meeting with the Philippine Red Cross to discuss providing psychosocial counseling to distressed Filipinos in Israel. The embassy also arranges flights home for Filipinos and offers various forms of assistance, including emergency financial aid, transportation, temporary lodgings, food, legal services, and predeparture briefings.

Philippine Red Cross Collaborates to Provide Online Psychological Support for Filipinos in Israel

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is partnering with the Department of Migrant Workers and the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv to offer online psychological first aid and restore family links services to Filipino overseas workers affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict. Prompted by a request from the Philippine Ambassador, the PRC is working to establish a process flow for providing welfare services online, ensuring that help is readily available to those in need.



The challenges faced by Filipinos working abroad are daunting, yet the support systems established by the Philippine government provide a lifeline. It’s important for our kababayan and their families to be aware of these services and understand how to access them. By utilizing these resources, distressed OFWs can find the help they need to navigate their difficulties and work towards a safer and more secure future.

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