Mental health is generally not discussed in our culture, let alone when it comes to mental health in the workplace. Employees are unwilling to talk openly about stress, anxiety and depression as they’re often associated with weakness and failure.
Based on the 2011 National Health and Morbidity Survey, 12% of Malaysians aged between 18 and 60 years are suffering from some form of mental illness.
From the data, the affected ones are of working age. Imagine how this will translate to productivity and well-being at work when this issue is not addressed.
With this year’s World Mental Health Day (observed on Oct 10), themed “Dignity in mental health”, let’s look at some of the ways businesses can play an important role in creating a mentally healthy environment.
- Increase awareness of mental health conditions: Make information available in the workplace.
- Increase awareness of mental health responsibilities: Provide information on how everyone can look after their own mental health.
- Reduce stigma: Speak openly about mental health and encourage others to do the same.
- Be prepared to help: Build skills and confidence, so you can approach someone who may be experiencing difficulties.
- Encourage staff to seek treatment: Nearby mental health services and information lines can provide support and resources.
- Support staff with mental health conditions: Change their roles or environment to help them stay at or return to work.
- Monitor and manage workloads: Encourage people to speak up early and seek guidance.
- Get more staff input: Find out how people do their work and listen to their ideas.
- Prevent bullying and discrimination: Promote an environment of dignity and respect.
- Provide regular feedback: Recognise good work and highlight areas of improvement.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression (a common form of mental illness) is expected to be the leading cause of disability by 2020.
We are now five years away from our target of being a developed nation in 2020. Is your organisation ready to address mental health at work head-on?