World Mental Health Day: Prioritizing Well-Being in the Garment Sector in Cambodia

On this World Mental Health Day, we take a closer look at the Sewing for a Brighter Future project activities, highlighting that mental health is a vital component of overall well-being, and should be placed at the forefront of dignified work.

Celebrated on the 10th of October every year, World Mental Health Day encourages individuals and organizations worldwide to engage in conversations and initiatives that promote mental well-being because mental health is a universal human right. 

In the busy garment factories of Cambodia, CARE, in collaboration with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, has been passionately working to weave the complex fabric of mental health into Levi Strauss & Co. supplier factories in Cambodia through the Sewing for a Brighter Future project 

For almost two decades, our partnership with the Levi Strauss Foundation has evolved from focusing on financial literacy to providing comprehensive support to factory workers through the “Sewing for a Brighter Future” project. Over the life of the partnership, the project has covered essential aspects such as sexual and reproductive health, maternal and newborn health, financial literacy, nutrition and hygiene, sexual harassment prevention, HIV/AIDS education, and most recently, mental health education.

Mental health education is critical in workplaces around the globe and the garment sector is no exception. The sector faces many challenges concerning worker well-being which are exacerbated by issues such as the high prevalence of sexual harassment and gender-based violence, job insecurity and long working hours. The importance of mental health care has grown significantly, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it vital to integrate mental health education into the workplace. In response to this growing need, CARE collaborated with the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, Cambodia’s leading NGO in the field of mental healthcare and psychosocial support.

Factory workers sitting on the floor, someone presenting
Mental health and well-being training

The Transcultural Psychosocial Organization and CARE are currently working with four factories to provide Training of Trainers sessions to Factory Management Teams, Factory Training Teams, Sexual Harassment Prevention Committees, and vendors to enhance their capacity in mental health and psychosocial education. Along with the training, the project activities also include awareness raising programs aimed at workers. 

Theary a factory line manager in one of the Levi Strauss & Co. supplier factories shared, “During the courses, we actively participated in discussions and shared our experiences. I gained an understanding of different aspects of mental health and psychosocial problems, and we learned how to identify negative and positive solutions as well as exercise muscle relaxation and breathing techniques for reducing stress”.

Theary expressed she is much better at coping with the stress of her management role, “After participating in the training, I began to practice what I had learned and feeling the positive changes. I learned how to manage my anger and emotions, becoming more open-minded and able to identify signs of stress in myself and my staff.”

On World Mental Health Day, as we celebrate the global movement to prioritize mental health, the partnership between CARE and the Levi Strauss Foundation is an embodiment of that commitment. By integrating mental health into the Sewing for a Brighter Future project, together we hope to begin breaking stigmas, and working towards a brighter, healthier future for women in the garment sector.

Factory management hosting mental health and well-being training.