Need to address mental illness
MENTAL health issues at the workplace should be given due attention as the productivity of the staff of any organisation depends on their mental health.
Employers must be aware that the neglect of mental health and psychosocial factors at the workplace is not only detrimental to the individual worker but also directly affects productivity, efficiency and output of any organisation.
Employee performance, frequent illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover are all related to the employees’ mental health.
Issues related to mental health at the workplace can also have a direct impact on all stakeholders of the workplace, including the employers, customers and the community in which the organisation is located.
No workplace is immune to mental disorders, and the impact in psychological, social and economic terms is high. Mental health should no longer be ignored. On the contrary it should be given adequate attention in relation to other businesses in any organisation.
Mental health problems, especially stress-related, among Malaysians are a matter of serious concern and need to be addressed urgently at the workplace so that problems like depression, mental illness and psychiatric disorders can be avoided.
NIOSH is of the view that urgent steps need to be taken to address mental and health issues at workplaces.
In this connection the Government should introduce guidelines for promoting mental health at workplaces in order to contribute towards a healthier and productive workforce both mentally and physically.
Employers should use safety and health committees at the workplace to examine and identify the problems relating to the promotion of mental healthcare at workplaces and formulate a fundamental programme to address these problems.
An employee assistance programme (EAP) which can provide both prevention and early intervention for employees affected by stress, emotional and mental health issues should be introduced at workplaces.
Funds expended on EAPs have documented investment returns in such areas as productivity and work performance. Companies are finding that investing in employee’ emotional well-being can mean a healthier bottom line.
Mental Health education and promotion, which aims to address the rise of psychosocial problems in our society, is most essential in view of our aspiration to achieve developed nation status, which obviously will exert tremendous pressure to deal with our daily responsibilities, which could lead to stressful predicaments.
The impact of mental illness on the family and society is enormous in terms of loss of productivity, legal problems and economic costs. Direct costs of mental disorders are high but indirect costs are estimated to be much higher than the direct costs to society.
We need to do more for those who suffer from mental illness. On the welfare services front, the Government should include the mentally ill as disabled persons and brought under the category of disabled persons and they should be accorded opportunities in employment to help them return to the mainstream and not be a burden to society.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE,