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Going MENtal (I) – Men Do Get It!

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My girlfriends and I complain all the time that the men just don’t get it. Well, they do… sometimes…

Joking aside, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and as part of the BEARAPY’s mission to make the world mentally healthy, we are focusing on the initiative of preventing workplace stress and burnout, largely correlated to depression and other issues. We will share stories and thoughts from different workplaces to help us maintain our emotional and mental well being, and to learn from best practices.

It’s a fast paced world. Changes everyday. Overload of work. Family pressures. Sometimes feels like we cannot keep up and cannot breathe. How can we build a strong and resilient mind so we do not end up burning out and overwhelmed?

These stories will focus on Chinese men, and men in China – Going MENtal, Men do Get It.

Why men? Because in our experience, it seems even harder for them to discuss the topics of burnout, stress, and depression. Because men tell us, they would like to hear more thoughts from other men, and do not know where to find them or the support. And because I have not focused on their stories till now.

Why China? Well, because I live here and it is my closest community, and it is a vision of mine to contribute to the country.

We will publish one article every few days starting today. At the end of the month, we will compile an EBook with all the stories for you to keep, download, and share with others – for FREE! We hope these stories will be inspiration and encouragement for more people to talk about these topics, and to find help when they need.

Thank you to all the men who have agreed to share their thoughts, stories, and vulnerable experiences, and thank you to my friend, D, for helping me come up with this tag, #MENtalhealth for this series!

Please do share the stories – and add your own – to reach as many people as possible so that we all become mentally strong! Please do add the tag #GoingMENtal when sharing the stories so we know where to find them!

 

 Alan Wang

Partner, Human Resources Consulting, Deloitte

 

Wellbeing is becoming more of a popular topic in China these days. Stress and burnout is the result of not being well mentally and emotionally, affecting our performance at work. As the first story of the MENtal Health series, we have a chat with Alan Wang, an expert in Human Resources management, on how the topic is received in China.

 

Why is it important to discuss topics like burnout, stress, and depression in the workplace?

The business environment is so fast-paced, and there the line between personal and professional space is blurred, particularly with WeChat and email. This increases the stress and pressure of work because we have to be on call all the time. So many employees have no time for holiday and did not go on holiday at all!

 

 

What are the challenges in China for the topic of  Mental Health, as Chinese, and for Chinese men?

This topic is still quite new. Chinese corporations are still in transition and they are a special case due to the rapid development and progress – many of them are busy on the business side and have no time to relax. Many Chinese employers do not pay much attention to this topic as a result and the employees do not dare take holiday. There are no special programmes… yet…

 

Also, Chinese do not like to talk about “stress” because in Chinese it sounds like it is linked to psychological problems or being “crazy”. We prefer discussing Well Being as a holistic concept, which also includes mental health, and to help employees have a full, meaningful life.

 

Why should companies even think about employees’ stress level?

Deloitte did an in-house research report on employee stress levels in China, and found that 40% of employees faces stress, which affects their productivity, health, and family relationships. Then of course, if employees are stressed, they are not able to perform to their fullest.

 

Can you share some interesting things that Deloitte China is doing for employees’ wellbeing, as I know you have a mature and comprehensive framework?

Deloitte China is aware that many of its consultants and partners have a big workload, and to help them relax, we offer our employees massage sessions in café! They can book a masseuse and relax. We want a whole company culture shift, so that leaders change their style of management to one that is helpful and not stressful to their employees, because the changes have to start from management.

 

We are also learning from our US offices, they offer counselling on sleep because many of our employees do not sleep enough, and sleep deprivation is also an issue linked to stress and burnout. They have also developed a Wellbeing Index and a Vitality app in-house, to help our employees become healthy in mind and body, and we will roll out into China soon. In fact, we even added a new company value: Well Being!

 

Do you see any differences in how the younger generation of employees like to relax?

Those born after 90s have a mindset of “Loose Social Network” (松圈主义). They like to be part of many groups, and not rooted into just one. So in our China office, we started a “Loose Network Programme.” We created different groups on social network, such as basketball, running, and other interests, and employees can just scan the QR code to join the group. This is really popular amongst young Chinese executives, they can choose whichever group easily, and for them to find friends of the same interests, helping them relax, be more energetic, and also strengthens their loyalty towards the company.

 

What do you see as the trend in Chinese companies in this aspect?

Many overseas companies are sophisticated in this caring for employee’s wellbeing, but in China it is still just starting. I think this topic is partly the employers’ responsibility. However, we see them catching on. Some are giving more medical insurance including critical illness, and longer maternity and paternity leave. Many of them have resources on food and nutrition, physical health such as sports clubs, and mindfulness meditation groups.

 

One of Deloitte’s clients has in their offices, a 2-floor “Health Refuel Station,” with medical practitioners, counsellors and a 6-metre high wall full of plants for fresh air. Then the employees can take a break, refresh, and continue to work with a clear and strong mind.

 

How do you think the Chinese society is responding to topics of Well Being?

It is becoming more acceptable these days, and you can see that sportswear companies or new Apps that use technology to check your stress level. Indeed, the first step is to identify that we are feeling tired, exhausted, stressed, and need a break, and it only needs to take a few minutes!

 

#MENtalHealth #MENtalHealthAwarenessMonth #MENtalHealthAwarenessWeek #burnout #stress #preventstress #preventburnout #stigma #reducestigma

 

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) is born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Play Consultant for corporates interested in creative change management and employee well-being using the psychology of playfulness.