Eight in 10 Asian employees at higher risk of developing mental health issues

More than half also believe career options to be limited if employers knew of mental illness

Eight in 10 Asian employees at higher risk of developing mental health issues

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

The latest mental health survey indicates that 82% of Asian workers are at high (35%) to moderate (47%) risk of mental health issues, underscoring a growing concern for employee well-being in Asia.

Aon has partnered with healthcare leader TELUS Health to release the inaugural TELUS Mental Health Index report for the pan-Asian region. The report delves into workplace mental health and its impact on productivity across 12 Asian countries.

The insights from the report aim to enhance comprehension of employees’ mental health risks and assist businesses in making informed decisions to manage mental health and bolster workforce resilience. The elevated likelihood of employees developing mental health issues — 30% for those at high risk and 7% for those at moderate risk — posed an increased threat of reduced productivity and financial challenges for organisations.

Stress, anxiety, and burnout were also identified as key factors negatively impacting workplace productivity. Other key findings include:

  • 51% of employees reported increased sensitivity to stress compared to the previous year
  • 45% believe their mental health is adversely affecting their work
  • 45% observe signs of stress in their colleagues
  • 33% find it challenging to concentrate on their work
  • 47% end their workday feeling mentally and/or physically exhausted

The stigma surrounding mental health

Multiple factors, including rising workloads, home and social pressures, the stigma surrounding mental health, and the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, have contributed to the deterioration of mental health among Asian workers. Public and self-stigma also remains a significant issue in workplaces and society across Asia.

The report reveals that 54% of employees believe their career prospects would be limited if their employer knew about their mental health issue, while 49% expressed concerns about how friends and family would treat them differently, and 49% would have a negative perception of themselves.

Access to mental health support remains challenging for employees. The report highlights that 43% of respondents cited cost as the primary barrier to obtaining mental health support. Lack of information and knowledge about where to seek help also ranked high among respondents, with nearly one third not knowing what type of care they need or where to go. This group also identified stigma as a significant barrier to seeking support, with concerns about others’ perceptions of their mental health issue.

“Organisations that do not implement support structures or choose to dismiss the impact of mental health in their workplace will realise there is a significant cost in doing nothing,” Aon Asia-Pacific Health Solutions CEO Tim Dwyer said. “Supporting employees’ wellbeing is necessary for organisations to maintain high levels of engagement and productivity to deliver measurable return on investment. Lack of support and the stigma attached to mental health issues are key barriers on why employee mental health issues remain unresolved. Organisations must therefore address these issues head-on while developing an integrated strategy informed by data and insights.”

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