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Survey Finds 80% Employees In Asia Face Moderate To High Risk For Mental Health Issues

Survey Finds 80% Employees In Asia Face Moderate To High Risk For Mental Health Issues
Employees in Asia are under "significant mental health strain," with 82% at moderate to high risk of being depressed.
According to a recent study by insurance broker Aon and TELUS Health, 47% of workers in Asia have a moderate risk of mental health issues, while 35% have a high risk.
The poll, which was carried out in November 2022 among 13,000 employees in 12 sites around Asia, also discovered that 51% of respondents reported feeling more susceptible to stress than they did in 2021.
“While the pandemic may have been drawing to a close in 2022, employees across Asia have been exposed to a number of new stressors,” said Jamie MacLennan, senior vice-president and managing director for Asia-Pacific at TELUS Health.
“That includes economic uncertainty, cost-of-living challenges, rising healthcare costs, climate change impacts, and geopolitical instability,” he told CNBC.
The highest percentage of high-risk workers was found in South Korea (44%), Malaysia (42%) and Japan (41%) respectively. 
“Mental or emotional difficulties, including depression and anxiety, are prevalent among employees at all levels and in every surveyed industry and location throughout Asia,” the report added.
Asia is "significantly" more likely than other regions of the world to have low job productivity, anxiety, and depression, which emphasises a "growing concern" about workplace well-being in the region.
For instance, Asia ranks 47.2 out of 100 in terms of work productivity, while the United States and Europe both score 66.7 and 60.1 respectively.
“These numbers are driven by a number of factors, starting with the fact that Asia has traditionally had far higher levels of stigma associated with mental health,” MacLennan explained.
“More than half of respondents said they would be concerned about career options being limited if they had a mental health issue that their employer was aware of.”
According to the study, 45% of workers in Asia felt that their mental health is affecting their ability to be productive at work, with Malaysia, India, and the Philippines among the seven countries that reported "higher than average" losses.
According to the paper, this should worry companies because of potential business costs such medical leave, long-term incapacity, presenteeism, and employee churn.
According to a recent Singaporean study, people who experience anxiety or depression report being less productive and missing "an extra 17.7 days of work per year."
Another estimate places the cost of Singapore's lost production due to anxiety and depression at close to $12 billion.
“Organizations that do not implement support structures or choose to dismiss the impact of mental health in their workplace will realize there is a significant cost in doing nothing,” said Tim Dwyer, Aon Asia Pacific’s chief executive officer for health solutions.
“Supporting employees’ wellbeing is necessary for organizations to maintain high levels of engagement and productivity to deliver measurable return on investment.”
Financial insecurity goes "hand-in-hand with high mental health risk," according to the survey, in addition to stress, worry, and burnout being significant variables that affect employees' productivity.
That is especially true given the current economic climate, in which workers are trying to cope with growing costs and reduced budgets.
“Financial wellbeing is closely linked to things that make life enjoyable and meaningful, both in the present and along the journey to retirement,” the report added.
According to the survey, workers in Asia are more financially vulnerable than those in other parts of the world; roughly one-third of them claim their financial situation has a big impact on their mental health.
According to the survey, employees who have emergency funds are 60% less likely to have trouble focusing at work than those who don't.
The Philippines (48%), Malaysia (42%) and China (39%), respectively, had the largest percentages of workers without emergency funds.
Companies have a part to play in helping employees "build healthier money habits" and have access to private, fact-based counselling, according to the report's addition.
People who responded to the poll indicated that in-person consultations or on-site counselling are the preferable methods of receiving mental health help, which companies "need to consider."
“Clearly and repeatedly promoting and explaining the health resources available … is key to helping employees find appropriate care and addressing problems before they escalate into more complex issues that take longer and are more expensive to resolve,” said the report.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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