Saturday, July 2, 2022

Levels Of Stress In Southeast Asia Are Alarming; Here’s What You Need To Know

Levels Of Stress In Southeast Asia Are Alarming; Here’s What You Need To Know


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This modern time has shone a light on the importance of mental health support. However, a silent mental health crisis still exists among Southeast Asian communities. Stress serves as the main root of this crisis. Stress will always be a part of our lives. If it is healthy, it can even be beneficial for our growth. However, alongside the heavy impact of the pandemic, long-term stress is harmful to our physical and mental health.

To get a closer look at this matter, Milieu Insight, with its partnership with Calm Collective, published a report that examined Southeast Asians’ sentiments towards stress, their mental health, and their views on seeking help.

According to the report, 81% of Singaporeans and 78% of Filipinos think that living in their respective countries are stressful. When the respondents were asked how often they found themselves in stressful situations, the results showed only 34% face stressful situations on almost a daily basis, while the Philippines is at 56%.

Milieu Insight’s report also revealed that there is a stigma on the perception of stress. Respondents shared that they don’t want to ask for help when it comes to these matters, especially in regards to mental health, as this may be unnecessary, a burden to their families, and it should only be kept personal.

Dr. Karen Pooh, a clinical psychologist, alliance counseling, adjunct faculty at Yale-NUS and NTU, revealed that Southeast Asia’s collectivistic cultures may be the reason why the Southeast Asian respondents have similar sentiments in not seeking help for stress.

“In more collectivistic cultures, we want to blend in, preserve harmony, and tend to place others’ needs above our own, even if this means putting our own mental health at risk. In workplace settings, it is easy to slip into a mode of only focusing on the workplace’s goal, which is productivity,” she explained.

She added that societal and workplace culture also plays a major role in influencing a person’s way of how he values and cares for his mental health. An unhealthy societal and workplace culture contributes to a person’s fear in asking for help in his work.

When it comes to mental health, the report unveils that stress triggers are not often linked to factors that affect the respondents’ mental well-being. While some may say personal, study, and work commitments take up their headspace, its relation to mental health is rarely talked about, which can be alarming as stress is being normalized.

Some stresses can be considered healthy, such as the feeling you get before going to a job interview, waiting for a response, or the feeling before you perform. Healthy stress can lead to your personal growth, but too much unhealthy stress can get overwhelming which can lead to burnout and even death by overwork. These issues were already dominant even before the pandemic happened.

Chronic stress should not be worn as a badge of honor as it can take a significant toll on our mental health. This is alarming if left unchecked. As a result, we must take a proactive approach to stress management by creating a healthier relationship with pressure, becoming fully aware of and learning how to distinguish between healthy and harmful levels of stress, and understanding the need for rest.


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