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Aon and TELUS Health release joint study on workplace mental health in Asia

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  • 82 percent of employees surveyed have moderate to high risk of developing mental health issues
  • 54 percent believe their career options would be limited if their employer knew they had a mental illness

SINGAPORE 14 September 2023 – Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm, in collaboration with global healthcare leader TELUS Health, has released the inaugural Aon TELUS Health Asia Mental Health Index report, which explores workplace mental health and the impact on productivity across 12 countries in Asia. The report revealed that 82 percent of workers in Asia have a high (35 percent) to moderate (47 percent) mental health risk, which highlights a growing concern of workplace wellbeing in Asia.

The insights from the report aim to improve understanding of the mental health risk of employees and help businesses make better decisions to manage employee mental health and increase workforce resilience. The strong likelihood of workers developing a mental issue – 30 percent of those who reported being high-risk and 7 percent of those with moderate risk – means there is increased risk of lower productivity and financial risk for organisations.

Stress, anxiety and burnout driving workplace productivity down

Key findings on workplace productivity showed that 45 percent of respondents across the region report that their mental health is negatively impacting their work while stress, anxiety and burnout are on the rise. Additional findings include:

  • Fifty-one percent of employees reported feeling more sensitive to stress this year compared to last year.
  • Forty-five percent of them believe their colleagues are showing more signs of stress this year.
  • Further, thirty three percent of workers are currently finding it difficult to concentrate on their work.
  • Forty-seven percent reported ending their day feeling mentally and/or physically exhausted.

Asian workers managing growing work, home and social pressures, stigma surrounding mental health and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to the deterioration of mental health. Public and self-stigma is an overwhelming problem for workplaces and society across Asia. The report revealed that 54 percent of employees believe their career options would be limited if their employer knew they had a mental health issue, while 49 percent said they would worry that friends and family would treat them differently and 49 percent reported they would feel negatively about themselves.

“Organisations that do not implement support structures or choose to dismiss the impact of mental health in their workplace will realise there is a significant cost in doing nothing,” said Tim Dwyer, chief executive officer, Health Solutions, Asia Pacific, Aon. “Supporting employees’ wellbeing is necessary for organisations to maintain high levels of engagement and productivity to deliver measurable return on investment. Lack of support and the stigma attached to mental health issues are key barriers on why employee mental health issues remain unresolved. Organisations must therefore address these issues head-on while developing an integrated strategy informed by data and insights.”

Difficulties in accessing mental health support

Timely intervention and support could help avoid the consequences of poor mental health like absenteeism, or loss in productivity and talent attrition. However, several factors make it difficult for employees to reach out for support. The report revealed that 43 percent of respondents cited cost as the number one barrier to obtaining mental health support. Lack of information and knowledge of where to get help also ranked high among respondents, with nearly one third not knowing what type of care they need or where to go. This group also rated stigma in their top four responses about barriers to getting support and reported that they were concerned about what others would think of them for having a mental health issue.

“The prevalence of overwhelming and crippling levels of stress within the workplace simply cannot go ignored; far too many people in Asia are dealing with elevated stress, anxiety, isolation and depression, which has a direct correlation to workplace productivity,” said Jamie MacLennan, managing director of APAC, TELUS Health. “Many businesses are still not taking the mental health of their staff seriously and when not addressed and supported will lead to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism and presenteeism. Addressing the mental health and wellbeing of staff is no longer a ‘nice to have’ – rather, it is a commercial imperative.”

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