This week on the Future of Work, Now podcast we spoke to Goh Shuet-Li, Executive Director of the Resilience Collective. Resilience Collective is a Singapore-based charity that focuses on shifting perceptions about mental health.
Goh shared that one of the most common misconceptions about mental health is that it only relates to mental illness. This is wrong, she says, because there is a broad spectrum of mental health challenges that people experience.
“Everyone has mental health just as you have physical health. It just so happens some people may be healthy and some may not be so healthy,” said Goh.
Understanding this and destigmatising mental health is vital in the wake of the pandemic and massive changes to how we live and work. Here, Goh shares her concerns and advice for today’s workforce:
We have multiple things happening all at the same time that are completely new to us and that creates new emotional experiences. Some people may feel a higher degree of irritability or feel angry or lethargic.
These are all mental health-related symptoms. There are physical symptoms as well, including headaches, bad digestion, physical aches and pains, and insomnia.
In the past, we’ve treated symptoms like headaches by just taking a pill. However, I think if we were better educated about mental health then we could start to explore the correlation between these symptoms and mental health. We could then perhaps address them better.
It is the stigma and fear. So many people don't really understand the topic of mental health and what you don't see and what you don't understand can be frightening. But in fact, mental health is like any other illness.
So if someone is feeling anxious, for example, we hope that one day it will be quite commonplace that they can go and tell their boss and ask for help.
In these last few months, we’ve heard so many stories of people feeling overwhelmed in the workplace. Anxiety is out of control and insomnia is so common. However, if you’re aware of this, then you can address it.
It is ideal if bosses or senior managers lead the way and share their struggles openly. This openness shows that the organisation is sincere in providing a safe space for mental health conversations.
You can then start putting in more structured support like an employee assistance program. However, first and foremost, you must make employees feel that they are in a safe space.
You have to make that very deliberate step of disengaging when you need to. Even within my own team, we’ve been very busy this year and have gone through stressful times. But I remind everyone that we have annual leave and it is there for a purpose.
I like to use the analogy of being on a plane. They always tell you during the safety briefing to fit your oxygen mask first before helping the child next to you. The same applies here. If you can’t find that balance between work and your personal life, you won’t be in the right place to take care of your family or loved ones.
I would point to self-reflection and looking inward to find that right balance and say do not be afraid to make the changes that you might need to make.
Listen to the full podcast to learn more about the Resilience Collective and hear more from Goh on current mental health challenges, including social isolation.
Our next episode will air at 1:00 p.m. SGT Friday, January 29 and feature Duncan Jepson, Managing Director of Liberty Shared, an organisation that aims to prevent human trafficking.