Expert says local statistics of local work-place related mental issues are still foggy
Dr Rajinderjit Singh Hullon, Deputy Director for the Department of Occupational Safety (DOSH) encourages employees to speak up about their mental condition at the workplace.
He believes that most of the victims are suffering in silence and the issue should not be swept under the rug by the employers and fellow co-workers.
Thoughts on the Hero’s Leave
“Implementing the ‘mental health off day’ in Malaysia is a little difficult due to various reasons. The countries that have implemented it so far hadn’t done for too long. Therefore, we do not have sufficient data to show that the approach is beneficial in the long run,” says Dr Rajinderjit.
He says that something that can be seen as a drastic initiative must be studied in-depth before any notion of implementation can be discussed.
“When a country implements something, we will study the execution and the feedback. If it has a positive outcome, then we will evaluate and
see if we should implement the same policy.”
In addition, Dr Rajinderjit claims that the lack of report may cause the halt the implementation of any workplace mental health solutions.
“With the amount of data that we have, we technically do not have any workplace related mental issues. As the old saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That is why it is important for those who are suffering from workplace mental issue to reach us in any form of reports or complaint,” he says.
Social stigmatisation and discrimination that the patients experience can worsen their workplace mental health issue.
Knowing more is empowering
HAVE you ever see a friend or a colleague change the way they talk to you? Do you see him or her to be less talkative, less lively, or disinterested in conversations and work?
If you have, there is a possible chance that person has some degree of mental health issues. It can either be stress, anxiety, or even depression.
Knowing when people are struggling with these type of mental health issues and empathise with them to a certain level can be just the thing they need. That is what the Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA) advocates, among other things, to the Malaysian public.
The thing we need to address
“Having mental health issues or mental illness is not a weakness, nor is it something to be shameful about,” says President and Founder of MIASA, Anita Abu Bakar.
The stigma that goes hand-in-hand with mental illnesses is unfortunately still prevalent among Malaysians. It had made the people affected to be scared or shameful to come forth and seek help.
“Some do still think lesser of people who are struggling with mental health issues and mental illnesses, which is why we as an organisation continues to educate and spread the awareness for mental health in the country.”
Struggling on their own
People with compromised mental health, be it being stressed out from work, burnt out from carrying too much responsibility, or being abused typically suffers alone.
“And it occurs in every level of society – be it in schools, universities, workplace, and at home. A person in the workplace who doesn’t receive help will only increase absenteeism, leading to lesser productivity. If it becomes more prevalent, it compromises the country’s overall economic state.”
Anita also says that the economic downturn caused by compromised mental health has costed countries billions of dollars in loss over the years.
“This stems from them not getting the help they need. They are afraid to come forth and admit they are stressed, experiencing anxiety, or depressed because of what society has been saying about them. Education, I believe, is key for better acceptance of mental illnesses.”
Workplace grapple with mental health
Issues with mental health in the workplace is something that are still not being talked about as much as it should. However, Anita tells that through MIASA, she has seen improvements among employers in terms of understanding mental health issues better and formulating changes in their system.
“MIASA have been called by a number of corporations, big and small, to speak about mental health among employees in the country.
“We have seen promising engagement from employers in terms of reshuffling their employees’ responsibilities so that no one is doing too much, medical leaves caused by stress are now accepted, as well as providing better overall environment at the workplace.”
Knowing more about mental health empowers the employers and the employees to better take care of their mental wellbeing, according to Anita.
Days off for mental health
We asked Anita about our proposed Hero’s Leave, in which there should be five days out of the entitled medical leave days where employees don’t have to provide any documentation or proof.
“I think that is a great idea. It could give employees the space they need to replenish their minds and destress without actually going to the clinic.”
Anita frowns upon the current system of taking medical leaves. “Even if you have a bad flu infection that makes it difficult for you to even get out of bed. Is it really fair for the employers to force the employees to go out on the same day to the clinic to get an MC?”
She believes that providing ample space for employees to destress is always a welcomed idea. — The Health