I would like to applaud the authorities for bringing the importance of mental health to the forefront last week as the globe marked World Mental Health Day.
Since the onset of COVID-19 over two years ago, we had had to deal with constant stress and anxiety due to mounting fear of a little-known virus.
We had to set aside our mental struggles for the greater good – to stop the spread of COVID-19. We banded together and did everything we could to keep severe cases at bay, from getting inoculated to social distancing. During the second wave, we limited our movement and only went out for basic necessities such as food.
Now that we are at the tail-end of the pandemic, it is time to properly address its impacts on our collective well-being.
During the height of the pandemic, quite a number of companies took the opportunity to freeze or cut wages due to market uncertainties. It was perfectly understandable; businesses have bottomlines to protect, after all. However, now that we’re seeing the return of economic activities, some companies continue to use the pandemic as an excuse to short-change their employees.
Sure, we all have a choice in this matter; we can move to a greener pasture. But if enough companies are using wage cuts as means to recover the losses of the past few years, the workforce has no real option but to stay put and hope that their wages would be adjusted in the unforeseeable future.
With inflation being the challenge du jour, topped with residual pandemic anxiety, we are essentially seeing the formation of a perfect storm. Imagine half of the workforce on sick leave on a given day?
Thankfully, more companies are taking mental health seriously. One establishment is even providing counselling service to its employees. Perhaps the authorities could consider nudging all companies in that direction, to ensure that there is a work-life balance. After all, the cost of mental health care should not be borne by the government alone; there should be concerted efforts from all levels of society.
In order to succeed, we need to make sure all parties – schools, businesses and the public – understand the importance of a healthy mind in this post-COVID world.