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The Ultimate Strategy To Improve Employee Mental Health in Asia

According to the Asian Development Outlook, an increasing percentage of the working population suffers from a diagnosable mental disease each year, ranging from 4% in Singapore to 20% in Vietnam, Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia.

The prevalence of major depressive disorder was found to be 20.0 % in Thailand, 19.9 % in Taipei, China, 19.4 % in South Korea, 17.5 % in Malaysia, and 16.5 % in China, according to the same study.
Content by:
Kiren Velu Pillai
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is best defined as an individual's mental and emotional wellbeing. It is the state of being free from stress, depression, or anxiety. Many factors contribute to an individual's emotional and psychological wellbeing, such as health, education, and social and financial status.

In many ways, mental health issues are becoming more and more prominent in society because people live longer and must deal with the effects of ageing. With this comes more pressure and stress on individuals experiencing any form of mental illness.

The primary mental illnesses that cause stress and anxiety in the working population are:
• Anxiety disorders
• Depression
• Dementia
• Personality disorders
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
How Companies Can Improve Employee Wellness by Improving Working Conditions, Environment, and Stress Management.
The rate of reported mental health disorders in Malaysia?
Recent epidemiologic data issued by the Malaysian Ministry Of Health identified that mental disorders among adults were 29%. 

According to the NHMS in 2015,it was identified that East Malaysia had shown the highest prevalence of mental disorders, at 43%, followed by those who reside in the Klang Valley at 40%

This is a three times increase compared to the 10% prevalence rate in 1996, as shown in the graph below.
How Does Mental Health Affect Organisation?
Dealing with mental health issues can be a constant challenge in all aspects of our everyday lives, including at work. Studies show that poor mental health and well-being can negatively influence our performance at work, affecting motivation, and productivity and sometimes contributing to long-term absence from work.

A calculation of productivity costs gives a clear picture of how poor mental health impacts the economic output of corporations. We can estimate the cost of poor mental health by looking at how it affects productivity in the three areas:

1) Absenteeism refers to employees missing part or whole days of work due to personal illness. Data obtained from Relate Malaysia reported productivity losses of RM3.28 billion. Absenteeism rates are higher in countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

2) Presenteeism is defined as employees attending work however they possess weak concentration in their work, leading to poor performance and quality in their assigned task.

It is often associated with decreased job satisfaction, lower mental and physical health, and lower job performance and productivity levels and accounts for a productivity loss of RM9.84 billion.

3) Employee turnover, refers to the voluntary resignation of employees, with mental health contributing to the turnover workforce from 12% to 20%. 

4) Turnover rates of up to 40% were a direct result of employee mental health issues. A report by the UK-based charity Mind in 2005 found that almost half of all workplace stress is attributable to mental health issues, and nearly a quarter of all sick leave in the UK is due to mental disorders.

Employees tend to leave their jobs due to poor workplace culture, conflict with supervisors, and not feeling valued. It is estimated that mental health problems account for 5% to 7% of total staff turnover, costing organisation RM1.34 billion.
In 2022, we ran a poll on Linkedin to learn how many of our community were willing to provide mental health support in their employer-sponsored health plans. From the results, 97% of our followers agreed that having mental health support should be included in their organisation's benefits, while the remaining 3% believe it shouldn't be a priority.

This is a significant result, especially given that nearly all employers offer health insurance benefits, which is the primary source of coverage for mental health. We want to encourage more organisations to consider making mental health support a priority in their benefits plans.

For those who think it doesn't matter how they offer this benefit, we assure you that having a robust, integrated approach to mental health support in the workplace is critical to promoting mental health and wellbeing.

We believe that mental health should be in any benefits package as it offers a holistic approach to employee wellbeing. It is important to note that no specific conditions must be met to receive this benefit. This is why it is essential to ensure that it is a part of a benefits package and the organisation's culture.

The productivity cost affecting various organisation size

The productivity cost affecting various organisation size

Employee Migrain Utilisation Rate in 2021

Employee Migrain Utilisation Rate in 2021
Employee migraine spiked re-introduction of the lock-down at the end of January 2021; Data sourced from the HealthMetrics Internal Medical Utilisation   
This data shows that the impact of migraine utilisation in the company increases during the lockdown period. The information also indicates that the utilisation of migraine medication is growing with increased employees working from home.

As we enter the post-pandemic era, we encourage you to look after your employees and keep them well. It is critical to creating a healthy, positive work culture, and we recommend that you take the following steps to ensure that your employees are supported and have a healthy work-life balance.

• Create a safe and supportive work environment by providing the right resources, tools, and support.
• Provide regular, frequent, and clear communication about your employees' job responsibilities and the expectations of their roles.
• Be aware of your employees' stress levels and provide them with the appropriate resources and tools to manage stress.
• Implement a healthy culture to support your employees and prevent burnout.
• Ensure that your employees have access to quality health services and support.

We hope this provides some advice and guidance for you during this challenging time. At HealthMetrics, we ensure that our employees are well taken off. We offer a flexible benefits pool that includes support for mental health so that employees can have the financial freedom to choose the support they desire.

We are committed to helping our employees and the organisations they work in by ensuring that their wellbeing and mental health are paramount to our organisation.
What are the solution that corporate are able to handle the situation ?
By making changes to your workplace environment and offering support to employees, you can reduce the duration and severity of mental health issues and kick off the recovery process for the workforce.
1) Educational campaigns
Education is the most important step to understanding mental health problems. Like physical illness, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and here are a few examples companies can do 

1) Make mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees. Click here for free tool that your employees can participate and determine how your employee are mentally fit. 

2) Distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.

3) Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.
2) Employee Assistance Program
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are a cost-effective method to address mental health issues at work by offering services including counselling sessions and psychoeducation on workplace conflict, stress, and career guidance.
3) Mental Health Corporate Policies
Existing policies, programmes, and procedures in organisations should be assessed for their potential impact on psychological safety and revised accordingly. Below are a few polices that are implement nationwide
As the prolong lockdown experienced by Malaysians, the cost of mental illness to corporations in years to come could be significantly higher if companies do not do something about this now.

HR should take active steps to create a mentally healthy workplace by raising mental health awareness, implementing workplace interventions, reviewing current organisational policies, and engaging EAP services for employees.
Employee Mental Wellness Ebook in Malysia
Employee Wellness Programs Isn`t Hard 
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