Workers are increasingly concerned with their mental health, but few companies provide support
The COVID-19 pandemic has come under control, with some work activities returning to the pre-covid working situation, such as coming to the office. However, companies cannot deny that the work-life balance during and post-pandemic has shifted the way people work and think about productivity. The dynamic situation has led to increased mental health concerns, including impacted stress levels among employees.
In a podcast interview with Tech in Asia, Theodoric Chew, Co-Founder and CEO of Intellect, a Singapore-based mental health platform, revealed that mental health issues are actually not new. Most medium-sized companies have provided support resources for employees, the so-called ‘Distressed Helpline.’ However, less than 1% utilize it across the board because employees fear the negative stigma. Another concern is how using the helpline would affect the relations with the employer, performance reviews, and promotion considerations. Thus, Intellect provides employees with access to mental health education, an SOS hotline, and clinical care from licensed mental health professionals.
Theodoric emphasized that the workers’ awareness and expectations of mental health benefits have changed exponentially worldwide, including in Asia. Employees are no longer just looking at the compensation package but also at the benefits they get from the company. For example, whether they can work from home or an office and the kind of mental care the company provides.
“Caring for the mental health of employees has massive returns for the company and gets the business thriving for the long haul. If you invest in this way, you have longer retention and a lot more motivated employees with better morale,” said Theodoric.
A study from the global consulting company, McKinsey on the Great Resignation in 2021, showed if employees are not mentally well, it will affect the business’s bottom line in many ways. The World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that in addition to impacting relationships and societies, mental health issues like depression and anxiety also cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion yearly, predominantly from reduced productivity.
Believing in the long-term vision for employee well-being and mental health, East Ventures has invested in several companies facilitating access to mental health and wellness, including Intellect, Mindtera, Riliv, and Bicarakan.id, since last year. We believe in paving the way to broaden society’s understanding of mental health and the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health.
Based on a 2022 survey of 112 companies from various sectors conducted by Indonesia’s personal development startup, Mindtera, found that 8 of 10 organizations have been aware of employees’ mental health. However, less than 20% of these companies have taken action to tackle the problem. Possible reasons are the lack of a comprehensive action plan in approaching the problem or that companies deem their employees’ mental health issues as personal matters that each person should resolve in private.
In Indonesia, many people treat mental health as a taboo. Data on the national prevalence of mental health issues are limited, but 5.9% of households from a total of 218,716 sample households in Indonesia have family members who have depression and other mental-emotional disorders. The Indonesian Manpower Ministry has included psychological well-being in a 2018 ministerial regulation, stating that companies or employers must implement stress management to help prevent mental health problems in their employees.
In addressing the problem, Mindtera acts as an objective and unbiased platform that attempts to align the companies and employees so that both parties can meet in the middle.
“We try to help companies to have visibility on their employees’ condition beyond productivity and performance through our SaaS analytics dashboard, where companies can monitor employee well-being, turnover forecast, employee sentiment, and happiness index. In giving a holistic experience. To give a holistic user experience, Mindtera provides a coaching program for employees to master themselves and learn emotional regulation, which is instrumental in working productivity,” said Tita Ardiati, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindtera.
People might think that work-life balance is something that every company needs to create for their employees. However, work-life balance is a cycle designed by every employee to fit their own capabilities. Designing a work-life balance cycle that works is not easy, and employees need to possess three core values: self-awareness, creativity in managing their work, and accountability, which can earn the trust of the management.
Meanwhile, companies are responsible for taking care of their employees’ mental health, not just because they will spend one-third of their lives on the job but because it will also impact the company’s sustainable growth.
“While you are still hiring people as a workforce, you need to value humans as part of your assets and invest in your people. Investing in human capital is tricky. The benefits are not immediately visible, but the company will see a sustained impact if you build a balanced and healthy working environment. Human resources are a valuable asset for a company’s growth. Happy people inspire growth, so look after your people, and you will see productivity,” concluded Tita.