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Shining light on mental health at the workplace

James Kon

The importance of mental health has become more widespread since the pandemic and as a result, more people and companies have begun to break down the stigma associated with mental illnesses by establishing platforms for better understanding of mental well-being and implementing healthier approaches to maintain work-life balance.

Mental health is not just about an individual’s psychological wellbeing but encompasses emotional and social well-being too. Having a healthy mental disposition helps determine how one handles stress, interact with one another, and make healthier choices.

One of the most common mental health conditions is anxiety disorder and it is an especially common occurrence in the workplace. The cause of anxiety in a workplace varies such as from worrying about your job performance, working relationships, meeting deadlines, job security to working excessive hours.

It is normal to feel anxious about our job as it plays a significant role in our lives therefore it is important to address this issue as it could affect the job performance of employees such as unable to concentrate, unmotivated and increased in sick leave.

Employee mental health and wellbeing have always been a priority at Unified National Networks (UNN). Therefore, one of the many initiatives to improve the well-being of UNN employees is to practise work-life balance where several activities outside of the office are carried not only to foster healthy lifestyle but also build a strong sense of belonging and open communication between employees. Sense of belonging will create a safe environment and productive workplace which is constantly promoted in UNN.

“It is part of UNN work culture to practice a positive work environment by encouraging open communications between supervisors and colleagues, as well as providing continuous education and creating awareness amongst our employees on the importance of their well-being,” said UNN Acting Head of Human Resources Roslaini binti Othman.

The global pandemic hastened the implementation of a myriad of activities by the company’s Human Resources division under the UNN Mental Health Awareness Programme. Under the programme, speakers from the Health Promotion Centre (HPC) and professional practice Clarity Brunei were invited to talk about the importance of mental health, the types of mental health issues common in the workplace, and avenues to seek help and support to handle aggravators or stressors leading to poor mental health.

“The Mental Health Awareness Programme is still ongoing within the company,” said UNN Head of Health, Safety and Environment Mohamad Khairil Fadlillah bin Said.

“Part of our ongoing plan is to elect some of our colleagues to become mental health champions where they will be trained on how to listen to the concerns raised by our staff and extend help or support to staff who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression to make them feel there is a safe place in UNN for them to convey whatever they are feeling.

Sometimes, we just need somebody to listen. In addition, we actively collaborate with our UNN Religious Committee to arrange and invite an ustaz to address the subject of mental health from an Islamic standpoint. Previously, we invited Prisons Department Assistant Counsellor Fariszal bin Ali to deliver the talk, and we intend to maintain the practice going forward.”

The UNN Healthy Lifestyle Programme (HLP) is introduced for UNN employees to be resilient in taking care of mental health, engage in extracurricular activities, and foster collaborations across domains. HLP acts as a platform for employees from different teams and divisions to interact with one another, build familiarity, and foster better working relationship not just between colleagues but line managers too, which in turn help pave a smoother path for inter-departmental collaborations during work.

Outside work activities such as paintball, hiking, defence class, brisk walk, yoga, badminton, board games, bowling, and futsal are promoted across domain collaborations not only to foster healthy lifestyle, but also to promote teamwork as it is a part of UNN core value. The Human Resources domain conducted a virtual run, in conjunction with World Health Day in April, where employees who managed to reach the highest distance by walking tracked by an app, were rewarded.

The long-term performance of a company is significantly influenced by the well-being of its employees. When employees are taken care of, their resilience will increase, leading to better engagement, reduced absenteeism, higher performance, and increased productivity – all leading to higher organisational success.

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