Mental health in the workplace is a topic that’s often neglected. While many companies offer robust insurance packages for employees’ physical health, there’s often a lack of knowledge or attention placed on the mental wellbeing of employees and workplace stress. This is a particularly salient point considering that, based on a 2019 survey by tech company Kisi, Singapore was the second-most overworked city in the world. Singapore also ranked second highest in the world for average work hours weekly – with 23% working more than 40 hours per week on average.
These long working hours haven’t been without consequence. Between 2010 and 2018, the approximate number of Singaporeans who have experienced some form of mental health condition rose from 12% to 14%. In such a high-stress environment, it’s of paramount importance that employers do their part in looking after the mental health of their employees.
The impact of poor mental health and wellbeing in the workplace
Before discussing the impact of poor mental health and stress in the workplace, it’s important to be aware of the stigma facing employees who have mental health issues. Because of a prevailing belief that these conditions are the result of lack of discipline and willpower, employees often feel that they’re seen as less reliable and receive fewer responsibilities. Education plays an important role here, and can make employees more likely to reach out for help when they need it.
A failure to address this problem can result in a variety of issues that could affect employers. from higher rates of absenteeism, to attrition, poor task management and a loss of work hours. For example, a CDC study on depression showed that it interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical tasks about 20% of the time, and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time. This directly affects a company’s performance and overall morale.
Common signs of mental health issues
Early signs of mental health issues and workplace stress can vary depending on specific disorders and factors like age and their home environment. Some of the most common signs of various mental health issues include the following:
- over-anxiety or worriedness
- depression or unhappiness
- emotional swings
- sleep problems
- changes in weight or appetite
- tendency to withdraw or isolate
- alcohol or substance abuse
- hallucinations or delusions
- suicidal thoughts
Additionally, mental health issues can also present themselves through physical symptoms like stomach pain, back pain and headaches – most of which may not be seen as resultant from poor mental health.
What can employers do?
There are a variety of ways employers can address mental health in the workplace. The most important thing companies can do is to treat mental illness like any other physical ailment. This serves to reduce the stigma at the workplace and eliminate another factor that contributes to stress. Companies can also provide free or subsidised mental health screenings and develop workplace health programmes that address mental and physical health. Additionally, employers can offer mental health days for staff to address their wellbeing and attend educational and team building activities.
The role of insurance companies in addressing mental health in the workplace
After addressing the issues of mental health in the workplace, it’s also critical to ensure that solutions are available. Psychiatric help and therapy can often be expensive, and that’s where comprehensive workplace insurance packages can ensure that employees get the help that they need. Expat Insurance is one such provider that offers flexible packages with a variety of benefits that include mental health coverage. In addition to this, Expat Insurance’s plans offer a variety of other essential benefits including physiotherapy, wellness benefits, preventative care, maternity, dental and vision coverage.
Written in collaboration with Expat Insurance.