Article: HR's vital role in employee mental health and well-being

Talent Management

HR's vital role in employee mental health and well-being

The role of HR in keeping the employees happy, healthy, and productive is crucial.
HR's vital role in employee mental health and well-being

In a recent study conducted across Southeast Asia, insights have emerged regarding the state of employee mental health and how individuals seek support.

The research, part of the Unmasking Mental Health report, sheds light on the impact of employee mental health assessment in Southeast Asia and the role of Mental Health Evaluation for Southeast Asian Workers. 

It highlights the significance of workplace mental health assessment in Southeast Asia and the importance of employee wellbeing in Southeast Asian companies.

Additionally, the study reveals insights into mental health surveys for Southeast Asian employees, shedding light on the challenges of workplace stress and mental health in Southeast Asia.

The benefits of mental health assessment for employees in Southeast Asia extend beyond the workplace.

These assessments contribute to a healthier work environment and enable organisations to navigate cultural considerations in employee mental health assessment in Southeast Asia. 

Furthermore, they play a crucial role in measuring employee happiness and productivity in Southeast Asia and developing strategies for promoting mental wellness among Southeast Asian workers.

Read more: Singaporeans reluctant to seek professional help, survey reveals

Employee mental health and burnout in Asia have reached critical levels, with nearly one in three experiencing burnout.

Toxic workplace behavior is identified as the primary contributor, leading to negative business outcomes.

The business case for addressing mental health is compelling, with significant costs associated with poor mental health. Asian countries face unique challenges, including cultural stigma. 

To improve employee mental health, leaders should address toxic behavior, provide tailored support, and enhance measurement and organisational listening.

Empowering employees is crucial for creating productive workplaces.

Mental wellbeing across Southeast Asia

The study involved over 9,000 respondents from six Southeast Asian countries, namely Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 

When asked to describe their current mental well-being, 60% of respondents indicated that they felt "good to okay." However, 26% reported feeling "not-so-good" to "not good at all."

Singaporeans appeared to be the least satisfied, with 41% choosing the latter options.

One striking finding was the unhappiness among senior Singaporeans, as 78% of those over 50 reported a "not-so-good" mental state, making them the unhappiest seniors in the region.

Factors influencing mental well-being

Financial pressures and work-related stress emerged as the top two concerns among survey respondents.

Specifically, 31% cited financial pressures as a significant concern, while 27% highlighted work-related pressures and career challenges.

Notably, individuals aged 35 to 49 faced the most workplace-related stress, with 45% identifying it as a primary factor affecting their mental health.

Further examination revealed recurring emotions underpinning individuals' mental well-being, with stress (25%) and dwindling work motivation (23%) being commonly voiced concerns. Interestingly, different age groups faced varying stressors.

For example, Generation Z individuals were more affected by social media pressure than financial considerations.

Other factors contributing to mental health issues included not having enough money for personal interests, exposure to bad news, failure to meet personal goals and digital/device addiction.

Significantly, 85% of Malaysian youth felt that social media pressure negatively impacted their mental health.

Seeking help and effective approaches

When dealing with mental well-being challenges, 73% of respondents turned to their colleagues or friends from school for support.

Friends themselves were a common source of help (60%), followed by employers or HR departments (22%).

Surprisingly, not a single respondent sought assistance from medical professionals or chose to take medication, highlighting the trust placed in peers as a primary pillar of support.

The survey also explored the most effective ways to address mental health issues.

Two in five respondents (40%) emphasised the significance of connecting with their inner circle—family, friends, or loved ones.

Religion and spirituality played a crucial role for 15% of participants in promoting mental well-being, and 12% recognised the importance of regular sleep routines.

The pivotal role of HR

The findings of this study underscore the importance of addressing employee mental health in Southeast Asia. HR departments have a pivotal role to play in creating workplaces that prioritise mental wellness.

Notably, 22% of survey respondents sought assistance from their employer or HR when facing a mental health issue. However, this engagement varied across age groups, with younger employees being less likely to interact with HR.

  • HR departments can actively contribute to improving employee well-being by:
  • Cultivating a culture of acceptance and understanding to reduce stigma around seeking help.
  • Championing awareness campaigns, training sessions, and initiatives to educate the workforce about mental health issues and available resources.
  • Advocating for flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, to address work-related stress and improve work-life balance.

Employee mental health is a crucial aspect of workplace well-being in Southeast Asia.

The study's findings emphasise the need for HR departments to proactively support employees' mental health and foster a positive work environment.

By doing so, companies can enhance talent retention and overall success.


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Topics: Talent Management, #Wellbeing

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