Depression will be the number one disability by 2030, and is expected to deplete workplace productivity.
Currently, cardiovascular disease is the number one disability decreasing the productivity of employees, says Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj.
Yet, Dr Andrew, who was previously engaged as a mental health expert by the World Health Organisation (WHO) told The Star: “According to the WHO finding, depression will soon overtake cardiovascular disease in determining the disability-adjusted life year (Daly) of individuals within the workforce of a country.”
He added that depression is already taking a toll on the Malaysian workforce and this issue presents a big challenge to the country since it cannot be easily identified with its hidden symptoms.
The standard telltale signs of depression include absence from workplace due to headaches and backaches, says Dr Andrew.
Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan agreed that there is already a visible increase in the number of workplace-related depression cases in the country. He further reported that there must be a holistic manner of handling the issue to benefit both employers and employees.
Fortunately, multinational and companies are strategising many new initiatives to implement “work-life balance” in their organisations. If employers are allowed to accommodate more flexible working hours for their employees, then the problem could be overcome, suggested Shamsuddin.
Additionally, MTUC secretary-general J. Solomon shared that employees had confided to their unions the reasons behind their workplace-related depression.
“Tremendous focus on productivity and performance by employers has created mental torture for these affected workers,” says Solomon. He added that many employers set unrealistic goals and depressed employers are forced to clock in long working hours to meet the set target.
Solomon also stated: “Some employers also demoralise their staff, whom they feel did not meet the set expectations, by humiliating them in front of their colleagues, telling them to leave if they can’t keep up.” As a result, some employees resort to taking constant medical leave as they are too depressed and demotivated to work.
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