When all is not well

FOR those of us who grew up in the early millennium, chances are that the band Linkin Park would have played an integral part of those growing years. The band's ability to emote human struggles with their music drew listeners towards them.

If one is not a fan, they would have at least been familiar with the nu-metal band, as after all the chart breaking number, Numb was all over the place at one time.

Last July, fans across the globe were distraught with the passing of its frontman, Chester Bennington.

Bennington took his own life after what was believed to be a prolonged battle with depression.

Depression is just one of many mental health problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and more which often go unnoticed.

Mental health issues not only affect one's psychological well-being but also our emotional state, social standing and to a certain extent physical body as well.

But oftentimes, mental health problems are left unspoken or rather must not be spoken about.

Just like the lyrics of Numb: "Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface."

To be fair, it is still a taboo topic for many. Despite all the so-called progressive steps we are taking by being vocal about mental health problems and taking measures to create awareness, the stigma attached to it still lives on.

For instance, if a teenager or a young adult shares his or her struggle with their parents on their battle with depression, chances are that they might be shut up with a "nothing is wrong with you".

I had a friend who told me once that she was frowned upon for majoring in Psychology as the person who queried her perceived that to be a field of work that required her to deal with "crazy people".

That goes to show that to an extent there is a bubble of ignorance that society dwells in, especially with the false connotation of mental health problems being associated with insanity.

While one may already be encumbered by the disorder itself, which is often described as bearing a boulder from within, the least they could expect is perhaps some sort of an emotional validation and support from their nearest and dearest.

Lack of support from loved ones could be infuriating and disappointing.

In the end as human beings, there is a certain sense of comfort that comes from being able to express one's emotions rather than containing it all within.

What could possibly be worse is not having those emotions validated and being told that there is no truth to the sufferer's experience.

On top of that, it is understood that professional consultation fees may not be affordable. A counsellor once told me that he charges about RM150 a session, which to be honest is quite pricey.

Some disorders may be caused by external factors while others may be hereditary.

External factors could potentially come in the form of taxing work conditions, personal loss, social and societal pressure, problematic family lives and the list goes on.

Recently, there were several media reports acknowledging that mental health problems exist both in the workplace and schools, and there is a need for them to be addressed.

The 2017 Malaysia's Healthiest Workplace survey conducted by AIA Vitality noted that 53% of Malaysian employees are at risk of mental health issues, yet close to 44% of employers offer no interventions at all.

Generally, a lot of emphasis is placed on physical health in workplaces and little if none is placed on mental health.

If we take pre-recruitment medical screenings for instance, it only covers a number of physical tests to determine the state of the physical body.

Reuters reported on a study conducted in Australia which revealed that mental health has been the main reason for long leaves of absence in the developed world.

The same study revealed that a four-hour mental health training programme for managers could result in fewer employee sick days and a roughly 10-to-1 return on investment.

This goes to show that mental health problems can have similar impacts as physical illnesses.

As human resource is the heart of an organisation and an engine for productivity, hence it is crucial for firms to place equal if not more emphasis on mental health as physical well-being.

Perhaps, appointing an in-house counsellor to help employees deal with work-related stress and seek instant relief and solutions could be a potential move.

The writer reports on business with theSun. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com