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25% of migrant workers in the Emirates are clinically depressed

On December 15, 2011

A new study conducted by the Community Medicine Department of the United Arab Emirates University reveals that at least 25.1% of migrant workers are clinically depressed. The study was conducted on 318 labor camp workers using translated questionnaires. The abstract is available online, and the study will be published in the Immigrant Minority Health Journal next month.

The study also found that 6.3% of migrant workers entertain suicidal thoughts and 2.5% have attempted to take their own lives. The findings added to the growing collection of studies on the Emirate’s migrant workers; one such study conducted by the Dubai Police Department found the highest rates of suicide to be amongst Indians and other South Asians, who account for 90% of all suicides in Dubai. The conclusions corroborated an earlier study examining suicide patterns from 1992-2000, which found male expatriates to be the most likely to take their own lives.

The study was submitted to the Ministry of Labor with recommendations to legislate a minimum wage as well as a maximum 8 hour work day. Correlations between depression, wages and the number of hours worked, confirmed concerns voiced by migrant NGOs in the past. Given that long work days and low wages prevail throughout the Gulf, the consequences - as well as the proposed solutions - are likely pertinent across the region.