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82% Of Asian Employees Face Mental Health Risks


According to a recent report by insurance broker Aonand TELUS Health, 82% of Asian employees face mental health risks. The study was conducted in November 2022 among 13,000 workers across 12 Asian locations.

Breaking down this statistic further, the report highlights that 35% of workers in Asia are at a high risk of mental healthproblems, while 47% fall into the category of moderate risk. Additionally, the survey shows that 51% of respondents are experiencing heightened sensitivity to stress in comparison to the previous year (2021).

"While the pandemic may have been drawing to a close in 2022, employees across Asia have been exposed to a number of new stressors," said Jamie MacLennan, senior vice-president and managing director for Asia-Pacific at TELUS Health.

"That includes economic uncertainty, cost-of-living challenges, rising healthcare costs, climate change impacts, and geopolitical instability," he said.

The countries with the highest proportion of high-risk individuals among their employees are South Korea, with 44%, followed by Malaysia at 42%, and Japan at 41%.

"Mental or emotional difficulties, including depression and anxiety, are prevalent among employees at all levels and in every surveyed industry and location throughout Asia," the report added.

Productivity Decline In Asia

Asia faces a notable elevated risk of experiencing lower work productivity, increased anxiety, and depression compared to other global regions. This underscores a mounting concern regarding workplace well-being in the Asian context.

As an illustration, Asia's work productivity score stands at 47.2 out of 100, whereas the United States boasts a score of 66.7, and Europe follows closely with a score of 60.1.

These numbers are driven by a number of factors, starting with the fact that Asia has traditionally had far higher levels of stigma associated with mental health. More than half of respondents said they would be concerned about career options being limited if they had a mental health issue that their employer was aware of.- Jamie MacLennan, senior vice-president and managing director for Asia-Pacific at TELUS Health

The study also revealed that 45% of Asian employees perceive their mental health as affecting their work productivity, with seven specific regions, including Malaysia, India, and the Philippines, reporting losses that surpass the average.

A lady operating her phone while sitting in front of a laptop with one hand on her head
A lady operating her phone while sitting in front of a laptop with one hand on her head

Employers should be alarmed by this situation as it can lead to increased business expenses, such as medical leave, long-term disability, presenteeism, and employee turnover, as highlighted in the report.

A recent Singaporean studyrevealed that individuals grappling with anxiety and depression reported a significant reduction in their productivity, resulting in an additional 17.7 days of work missed each year.

The economic impact of this lost productivity, attributed to anxiety and depression, is estimated to reach nearly $12 billion in costs for Singapore.

Organizations that do not implement support structures or choose to dismiss the impact of mental health in their workplace will realize there is a significant cost in doing nothing. Supporting employees' well-being is necessary for organizations to maintain high levels of engagement and productivity to deliver measurable returns on investment.- Tim Dwyer, Aon Asia Pacific's chief executive officer for health solutions

One In Three Lacks Emergency Savings

In addition to stress, anxiety, and burnout, the report highlights that financial insecurity is closely linked to elevated mental health risks among employees. This correlation is particularly pronounced in the current economic climate, characterized by increasing expenses and constrained budgets, which are putting significant pressure on workers.

"Financial wellbeing is closely linked to things that make life enjoyable and meaningful, both in the present and along the journey to retirement," the report added.

As per the survey findings, workers in Asia face a heightened financial risk when compared to their global counterparts. Approximately one in three Asian employees lack emergency savings and report that their financial stability significantly affects their mental well-being. According to the report, individuals without emergency savings are 60% more likely to experience difficulties in maintaining concentration at their workplace in contrast to their counterparts who have such savings.

The survey identified the Philippines (48%), Malaysia (42%), and China (39%) as the regions with the highest percentage of employees lacking emergency savings. The report also emphasized the role of companies in offering educational programs aimed at helping employees cultivate better financial habits. Additionally, it suggested providing access to confidential, evidence-based counseling services.

Survey participants indicated a preference for receiving mental health support through face-to-face meetings or onsite counseling, highlighting the need for employers to take this into consideration when designing support programs.

"Clearly and repeatedly promoting and explaining the health resources available is key to helping employees find appropriate care and addressing problems before they escalate into more complex issues that take longer and are more expensive to resolve," said the report.

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About The Authors

Dr. Bill Butcher

Dr. Bill Butcher- With more than two decades of experience, Dr. Bill Butcher aims to provide a repository for educational materials, sources of information, details of forthcoming events, and original articles related to the medical field and about health subjects that matter to you. His goal is to help make your life better, to help you find your way when faced with healthcare decisions, and to help you feel better about your health and that of your family. Bill received his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and spent his entire career helping people find the health and medical information, support, and services they need. His mission is to help millions of people feel fantastic by restoring them to optimal health.

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