Efforts to encourage companies to address the mental health concerns of their employees are an important aspect of dealing with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Working from home while taking care of other responsibilities there increases stress. The fear of adverse change, including concerns about the possibility of retrenchment, adds to anxieties. Even returning to office after having worked from home for some time entails its own set of pressures on mental health. Firms need to follow up on recommended practices and come up with some of their own measures because only a mentally capable workforce will be a productive one. Mental health was a pressing concern even before Covid-19’s onset.
The Singapore Mental Health Study conducted between 2016 and 2018 found that one in seven people experienced a mental disorder in his lifetime, compared with one in eight in the 2010 Mental Health Study. International studies have cited stress at work as being among factors associated with poor mental health. For example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that while work is good for mental health, a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems. Globally, the WHO notes, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of them also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. Depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact, the WHO adds, because the estimated cost to the global economy is US$1 trillion (S$1.3 trillion) annually in lost productivity.