Need sup­port for good men­tal health

The Star Malaysia - - Views -

IT is fit­ting that the theme for this year’s World Men­tal Health Day is “Men­tal Health in the Work­place”.

There is an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress in the work­place with the Na­tional Health and Mor­bid­ity Sur­vey re­veal­ing that men­tal health prob­lems among adults has in­creased from 10.7% in 1996, to 11.2% in 2006, to 29.2% in 2015.

This ex­pe­ri­ence of stress can re­sult in men­tal health disor­ders if not ad­e­quately man­aged. Anx­i­ety and de­pres­sive disor­ders are the com­mon men­tal disor­ders that arise from chronic or se­vere stress.

Psy­chi­a­trists, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists and coun­sel­lors are at­tend­ing to an in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing stress, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion. Al­though stigma is a bar­rier to ac­cess­ing pro­fes­sional help, a greater aware­ness of men­tal health disor­ders has led work­ing peo­ple to seek pro­fes­sional as­sis­tance.

An aware­ness of fac­tors re­sult- ing in men­tal health disor­ders is the be­gin­ning of pre­ven­tion. Some of the causes of stress in the work­place are heavy work load, work type stress and in­ter­per­sonal con­flicts.

In­creas­ing prof­its should not be to the detri­ment of the health and men­tal health of em­ploy­ees. The in­abil­ity to cope with the stress re­sult­ing from a change of work type or work role can re­sult in men­tal health disor­ders.

In­ter­per­sonal con­flicts be­tween col­leagues, and be­tween em­ploy­ees and man­age­ment is also an ev­i­dent cause of stress. Healthy com­mu­ni­ca­tion, di­a­logue and dis­cus­sion within the work place are im­por­tant pre­ven­tive mea­sures.

The aware­ness that men­tal health disor­ders can re­sult in a de­crease in oc­cu­pa­tional func­tion­ing and thus pro­duc­tiv­ity should spur em­ploy­ers and the man­age­ment of com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions to pro­mote men­tal health in the work place.

The avail­abil­ity of an Em­ployee As­sis­tance Pro­gramme (EAP) pro­vided by many multi­na­tional com­pa­nies, like Tay­lor’s Univer­sity, has en­cour­aged em­ploy­ees to seek help for their men­tal health is­sues.

EAPs pro­vide pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial pro­fes­sional ser­vices. A num­ber of lo­cal in­sti­tu­tions and com­pa­nies are also of­fer­ing the EAP for their em­ploy­ees. It is hoped that many more com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions do the same.

Em­ploy­ees re­quire sup­port from their em­ploy­ers, the man­age­ment and each other. This sup­port is es­sen­tial for the main­te­nance of good men­tal and phys­i­cal health. The theme of World Men­tal Health Day 2017 re­minds all of us that we need to pro­mote good men­tal health in the work place. AS­SO­CIATE PRO­FES­SOR DR XAVIER V. PEREIRA Con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist and psy­chother­a­pist Fac­ulty of Health and Med­i­cal Sci­ences Tay­lor’s Univer­sity

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