Mental ill health is not a new issue in the current workplace. It is an issue that had been neglected for too long as it reflects: Human Resources Management Assignment, SU, Malaysia

University Sunway University (SU)
Subject Human Resource Management

Mental ill health is not a new issue in the current workplace. It is an issue that had been neglected for too long as it reflects widespread stigma and fears. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally 300 million people are suffering from depression, the leading cause of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Mental health could be defined as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his own community (World Health Organization, 2007).

Kornhauser (1965) connotes that mental health includes those behaviors, perceptions and feelings that determine a person’s overall level of personal effectiveness, success, happiness and excellence of functioning as a person. It depends on the development and retention of goals that are neither too high nor too low to permit realistic successful maintenance of belief in one’s self as a worthy, effective human being. Further, it is the condition in which the individual manifests through self-evaluation, adjustability, maturity, regular life, absence of extremism, satisfactory social adjustment and satisfaction from his chief occupation. According to Singh, Chandra & Parihar (2011),  any individual who possesses the greatest number of these qualities will be nearest the ideal of mental health.

Workplace stress is a major contributor to mental health issues. It was said that poor mental health has a huge impact on individual employees, poor mental health has severe repercussions for employees such as increased staff turnover, sickness absences due to debilitating depression, burnout and exhaustion, decreased motivation and lost productivity (Managing mental health in the workplace EBook).

According to the Malaysian Health System Research report (March 2016), mental illness is a leading cause of economic loss at the individual, family, employer, health system, and national levels due to direct and indirect health costs, absenteeism, lost productivity while at work, and decreased income – all of which can result in a reduced national economic output.

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In Malaysia, mental illness is expected to be the biggest health problem affecting Malaysians, second after heart disease. By the year 2020, mental health issues are expected to be major problems among Malaysians. Based on the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 study by Health Ministry, the prevalence of mental health issues among adults above 16 years old is 29.2%, or 4.2 million of Malaysians, about every 3 in 10 adults have some sort of mental health problems and the prevalence of suicidal attempt was apparently increasing.

According to the report also, about 2.1 million of women had some form of mental illness though the percentage refers to those with mental health problems and not mental illnesses and the total of 57,570 women had sought treatment for mental illness at government hospitals between 2010 and 2017.

According to a survey done by experts on the prevalence of depression among Malaysians showed a 50% increase in the number of depressed patients from 2011 to 2015. The patron of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association (MPA), Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said that the reason of increasing number mostly due to people finding it hard to deal with problems at their workplaces and being unable to cope with the stress.

Lee also added that it is harder when an individual faces problems from family members and do not receive emotional support. There are higher chances of people keeping their thoughts and emotions to themselves when they do not find a way to vent out their frustrations.

Among them, teaching profession due to its working conditions, is said among the stressful occupation and consistently reported to be at increased risk of common mental health disorders compared to those in other occupations (Stansfeld et al., 2011; Johnson et al., 2005; Kidger et al., 2016).  It is given, seeing the teachers workload in Malaysia.

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For example, the teachers not only spend time on instructional activities such as lesson planning, classroom teaching, and grading homework,but also on tasks such as running co-curricular activities, attending or facilitating professional development activities, and engaging parents and the community. Moreover, teachers are also expected to engage in administrative duties related to teaching and learning such as filling out student report cards and tracking student attendance in class. According to the 2011 survey of 7,853 teachers, Malaysian teachers work between 40 and 80 hours per week, with an average of 57 hours.

Career as the teachers need them to face many stressful events from students’ behavior to some of parents’ attitudes. With the existence of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, the communication between parents and teachers has become easier but at the same time the teachers lost some of their privacy as some parents keep on contacting them even on the little things either in or out of school session. These kinds of things sometimes give stress to the teachers as the teachers are not supposed to focus only on one student. One teacher usually needs to handle a class with 30 or more students at a time, and at the same time the teacher needs to meet the standards set by the school.

Moreover, the change and competition of the world of education in this globalization era also contributed to the high stress and constraints among teachers. Implementing all forms of education, policy and education innovation that apply at school level by government will indirectly affect all forms of teacher behavior because the teachers need to determine the effectiveness of their implementation (Tajulashikin, Fazura & Mohd. Burhan, 2013). The table below shows the stress percentage rate by type of job in Malaysia.

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