‘Pay attention to your mental health’

National 1 minute, 48 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

MENTAL health should be prioritised as much as physical health in the workplace, according to a visiting Singaporean expert.

“There is still a huge stigma in Asian cultures... where they think that having a mental illness means that you are crazy and that you are getting ostracised. This is a really huge (issue) that should be focused on,” said Katherine Koh.

Koh is the deputy head of the Workplace Health Promotion Services at Singapore’s ST Healthcare.

In a recent interview, she told The Brunei Times that the stronger focus on physical health not only places the employees at a disadvantage but also the employers.

“Everyone (places emphasis) on physical health. When you are sick you do this, go to the doctor and take medicine, if you are injured you put a plaster on it but nobody really talks about mental health issues,” said Koh.

She explained that should one’s psychosocial health be given more attention at work, it could lead to an increase in work productivity.

“I definitely feel like it is a joint effort between the organisation (and employee) in terms of providing the infrastructure for their employees to support their needs. It also needs to be everyone’s responsibility to make sure that they are taking care of their mental health,” said Koh.

She said that she has noticed a shift in society regarding individuals with mental illness.

“I think we are slowly starting to see a shift. You can see a lot of companies in Singapore trying to put in mental health programmes and initiative. There is also a positive shift in Brunei where they are building infrastructure. Slowly but surely, we can get there,” said Koh.

She also urged employers to be supportive of employees who have psychosocial issues.

“Try to be more open to it. If you think someone has depression or mental illness, they may need support. Be more open-minded or more accommodating and really try to support them the best you can. It can be something to overcome,” said Koh.

Koh recently delivered a talk at Universiti Brunei Darussalam entitled, ‘Psychosocial Health at workplace – a neglected need’.

The Brunei Times