Malaysia unveils mental first aid programme for workplace wellbeing

The Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia is allocating RM12 million (US$2.5 million) to train 10,000 psychological first-aiders.
By: | February 21, 2024

To recognise the growing importance of mental wellbeing at work, the Ministry of Human Resources of Malaysia has unveiled the Occupational Mental First Aid programme. This initiative empowers employees to proactively support colleagues facing mental health challenges, fostering a more supportive and productive work environment.

Steven Sim, Minister of Human Resources of Malaysia, highlighted the significance of mental health in workplace dynamics, acknowledging the prevailing stigma surrounding mental health issues in the country. He emphasised the importance of enhancing public awareness, particularly among employers and employees, to promote a culture where seeking help for mental health concerns is encouraged and normalised.

Sim highlighted projections by the World Health Organization indicating that mental health illnesses are expected to surpass cardiovascular diseases in determining an individual’s fitness for work. Despite this, the 2022 National Occupational Accident and Disease statistic report revealed a significant underreporting of psychosocial causes due to a lack of awareness.

To address this gap, the ministry has allocated RM12 million (US$2.5 million) to train approximately 10,000 psychological first-aiders, including public sector employees. The training aims to equip participants with skills to recognise early signs of psychological stress and provide appropriate support.

READ MORE: Creating the space to be open about mental health in the workplace 

Sim emphasised the benefits of the initiative for employers, including improvements in productivity, employee performance, and reduced absenteeism. The programme also focuses on enhancing communication skills among participants and identifying appropriate channels for referring individuals experiencing mental health challenges.

Additionally, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has introduced the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to identify and address mental health issues early, further supporting employees’ wellbeing, reported New Straits Times.