A new study has found that stress and mental health are the biggest concerns organisations have about their employees in Asia Pacific (APAC).
The report by Aon Hewitt, the APAC Benefits Strategy Guide 2017, revealed 62 per cent of employers believe stress and mental health is a current pressing issue, closely followed by physical health (61 per cent) and an unhealthy lifestyle (57 per cent).
However, of those same employers, less than half (44 per cent) had health and wellness programmes in place that dealt with mental health, although 24 per cent did say they had such programmes planned for the future.
“The United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) has defined stress as a 'global epidemic' and dubbed it the 'silent killer',” said Aon Hewitt. “It is a growing phenomenon in many Asian countries, especially those with advanced economies […] such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.”
In Singapore, the percentage of employers concerned about the mental health of their employees was even higher, at 71 per cent. It was reported earlier this year by recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley that Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world, which is partly due to dealing with offices in other time zones and wanting to be contactable at unsociable hours.
On the other hand, Nick Lambe, managing director at Links International in Hong Kong, believes countries like Singapore and Hong Kong are relatively welcoming to expats and easy to adapt to, whereas developing nations can prove more challenging. Access to psychiatrists and mental health care professionals is also likely to be limited in some economies.
An ‘out of office’ email reply from an American worker made the news recently because of its reference to mental health. When Madalyn Parker wasn’t feeling well, she took the day off sick and left the following message for her colleagues:
“Hey team, I'm taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I'll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%. Thanks, Madalyn.”
Her CEO sent Parker a very sympathetic email and expressed his gratitude for the reminder it provided of the importance of mental health.
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