MENTAL HEALTH AT WORKPLACES

BY: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR SHUKRAN ABD RAHMAN

The world is characterised by volatile and dynamic environment, uncertain and unpredictable future, complex life demands, and ambiguous conditions of life.  In many places, people are experiencing tough time due to many disruptions. They face various challenging demands which lead them to face difficulties in making living. This and many other factors have also affected employees’ well being, causing many to experience mental health issues at workplaces.

There are a broad-range of mental health issues encountered by employees, attributed to various factors such as geopolitical factors, technological advancement, global financial situation, uncertain price of commodity, changing lifestyles, active migration, dynamic work culture, climate change, scarce resources,  as well as pandemics. These factors have affected the nature and structure of work causing many to report having low job satisfaction, deteriorated quality of task performance, and several mental health issues like stress, burnout and depression.

It is therefore pertinent for workplaces to give proper attention to mental health issues and prepare employees to have good extent of readiness to deal or cope with job changes, challenges, and demands. The initiative to address mental health problems at workplace should start with the development of a specific policy which spells out the position of mental health care agenda. Besides, workplace management should design a good workplace ecosystem which provides necessary supports for their employees to deal with the changing nature of tasks especially at challenging time. Strategic plans to reduce the causes of mental health issues should include a holistic process to 

  1. identify the nature and causes of mental health issues among employees who encounter, or live with, mental health issues.
  2. design interventions to reduce the causes, minimise the prevalence, and overcome the negative impacts of mental health issues among employees.  
  3. implement interventions to overcome negative impacts of mental health issues, such as  introducing employee assistance programme  (EAP).  
  4. engage mental health professionals to form strategic initiatives in designing interventions, providing supports to individuals who are in need of assistance, care and treatment 
  5. coordinate services provided by different agencies to develop, implement, facilitate mental health intervention programmes 

Professionals of mental health-related disciplines should join force in developing resilient employees so that they are able to manage the increasingly challenging environment, and thrive into the future.  A set of policy statement ought to be put in place in order to guide the initiatives that nurture mental health among employees. Good workplace mental health service is essential to ensure physically and psychologically healthy individuals at the workplaces. 

Dr. Shukran is an organisational psychologist and also Dean of Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM. He is also a member of the IIUM Special Task Force on Mental Health.

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