THERE is much talk about mental health. It is a scary topic, and the cases are growing around the world.
Worldwide, it has been reported that an estimated one billion people suffer from anxiety, 300 million from depression, 60 million from bipolar affective disorder, 21 million from schizophrenia or other severe psychoses and 50 million from dementia.
It has also been reported that a lack of resources and shortage of healthcare providers are among the challenges faced in addressing the problem.
How best can we approach this mental health issue?
It has been pointed out that the workplace would be a good place to start awareness campaigns on mental health.
There is so much to be gained from talking about mental health, particularly for those in leadership positions, whether in schools, communities, non-profit organisations and big corporations.
Mental health matters as much as physical health. Employers cannot separate the personal and professional aspects when it comes to employees.
We must recognise that the success of an organisation depends on the mental health of its workers, therefore their wellbeing must be taken care of.
For example, if employees suffer from burnout, this must be looked into because it is not the regular fatigue. It’s an “acute state of stress and emotional fatigue” which, if not addressed early, could become worse.
A recent study shows that employees who experience burnout are less engaged and are unproductive.
If the brain’s emotional centre, which is connected to the part of the brain that controls creativity and decision-making, is affected, the person will not be able to perform.
The management of an organisation should strive to show that they care about the welfare of their workers, create an open dialogue at work, whether through team events, discussion
groups, one-on-one lunches or coffee meetings.
They should also promote “time off” for the employees to take short breaks or allow them to leave home early on occasions. They could also implement vacation policies that allow workers more flexibility.
Most office leaders do not seem to trust their staff and do not value or appreciate the work of their subordinates, and because of these, employees sometimes end up spending more time at the office than they do with their families.
Don’t just tell the employees that you care about their mental health. Encourage them to speak up.
Show them empathy. If an employee comes to you with a problem that has been bugging him, make sure that he feels he
has made the right choice by coming to you for advice and guidance.
Institut Pendidikan Guru Malaysia, Kampus Bahasa Antarabangsa, Kuala Lumpur