Work-from-home Affects Employee Mental Health

mental health

mental health

While many would argue that flexible work arrangements have improved work-life balance, maximised time, and decreased commute time, some have stated that the idea has had a detrimental effect on mental balance, which is becoming more evident in Malaysia.

According to consultant psychiatrist Professor Datuk Dr. Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran, President of the Malaysian Mental Health Association, employees are experiencing more negative consequences as a result of the shift to work from home.

According to Dr. Chandrasekaran, “the spotlight intensified on the various implications that working from home introduced to an individual’s psychological well-being as the country navigated the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic,” as The Sun noted.

Furthermore, Dr. Chandrasekaran gave the example of a study carried out by the non-profit research organisation Integrated Benefits Institute, which has its headquarters in Oakland, California. The study revealed that 38% of workers in hybrid work arrangements and 40% of employees working remotely full-time showed signs of anxiety and depression symptoms. For individuals who worked from home, symptoms including weariness, social isolation, and low motivation became common.

Related link: Singapore Launches Network To Promote Mental Health At Work

In addition, he shared how studies have shown a strong link between loneliness and disrupted sleep patterns, with lonely people more prone to sleep fragmentation, a weakened immune system, increased inflammation, and mental health issues like burnout, clinical depression, and generalised anxiety disorder. “Contrary to the belief that solitude promotes calmness, remote employees experienced heightened stress hormones in their bodies,” he said. The most vulnerable workers are those who are extroverts or have a history of mental health disorders.

Lastly, Dr. Chandrasekaran stressed that the emphasis should be shifted from flexibility alone to establishing a workspace that supports work-life balance. He emphasised the significance of keeping an eye on employees’ symptoms and called employers crucial in preserving the mental health of their workforce. This entails carrying out frequent check-ins, encouraging open lines of communication, and offering options for mental health assistance.

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