#HEALTH: Mental health - a critical issue in years to come

A NEW survey shows that 65 per cent of people in Asia believe that mental health will become a critical issue in the coming year.

The survey by FWD Group Holdings Limited, one of the largest completed in Asia, aimed to identify insights and ideas to help promote better overall emotional well-being.

The survey interviewed more than 10,000 people across 16 international markets between June and July this year including markets where FWD operates such as Cambodia; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand and Vietnam.

FWD managing director and group chief operating officer, Sim Preston, says while it's great that mental health is gaining more and more awareness, especially in Asia, the stigma and cost of treatment remain barriers for people to seek the help they need.

"We hope this survey contributes insights and ideas that can help further raise awareness of this critical issue."

While the survey found that 65 per cent of people in Asia believe that mental health will become a critical issue in the coming year, only one-third of them prefer discussing their concerns externally. Given the cultural and societal stigmas associated with mental health, the survey findings show that reframing mental health in a more positive way, such as "mind strength", may reduce the stigma attached to the more traditional term and encourage more people in the region to open up about their challenges.

Cost of treatment was also identified as one of the most significant barriers to receiving care for mental health challenges in Asia, and 76 per cent of respondents expressed their interest in exploring insurance options to address such challenges.

The survey also uncovered that people in Asia worry about their families and jobs, which can lead to a higher rate of mental health challenges.

"Our survey shows that contributing factors to mental stress include concerns about a wide range of family responsibilities, coupled with work-related stress, rising inflation and post-pandemic adjustment," says FWD group head of product proposition, Joanna Chu.

Given that people may not be comfortable seeking help externally as individuals, the family plays an important role. Opening up and addressing these challenges as a family unit first instead of individually, can make a difference as people may feel more comfortable, explains Chu.


Mental health issues will become more prominent around the world, yet stigma remains.

* 65 per cent of people in Asia believe mental health will be one of the most critical issues in the coming year.

*74 per cent of people said they had experienced (16 per cent) or known someone close (28 per cent) and distant (30 per cent) to them who had suffered mental health challenges.

*People in Asia place a higher value on self-help rather than seeking outside assistance, only 34 per cent prefer discussing issues openly with others.

* 31 per cent of people in Asia believe renaming "mental health" can help people to open up.

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