Naluri News

Taking Southeast Asia's Largest Mental Health Data Set to the Next Stage

Naluri is once again embarking on a month-long initiative to build a bigger data set on mental health – providing governments and businesses across Asia with critical insights to navigate growing healthcare challenges in the workplace

Compiled through its popular free mental health assessment (now with a new burnout assessment component), Naluri is campaigning to drive over 500,000 adults in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand to participate. 

But why is the need for this data set so urgent?

Employee mental health and burnout continue to be an increasing concern in Asia. In the example of Malaysia, one estimate places absenteeism, presenteeism, and staff turnover as costing employers RM14.46b every year, compelling businesses to spend more on mental health programmes than ever.

The problem with employee mental health is particularly acute in Southeast Asia.

Coping with a mental health condition is often trivialised in this part of the world. In Singapore, nearly 90 percent of employees indicated that they wouldn’t seek help for a mental health condition due to stigma. Cultural taboos and misinformation are so commonplace that good support is hard to come by. As such, many cases go unreported and untreated, leaving gaps in the region’s mental health data.  

The problem with mental health data gaps

Inaccurate statistics could lead to governments and businesses de-prioritising mental health and diverting necessary funds elsewhere. This limits mental health education and mental health care, further perpetuating stereotypes and continuing the negative cycle. 

For example, Indonesia only spent Rp255.3 trillion or around 9.4 percent of the total of the 2022 State Budget for health sector – a smaller fraction of which was allocated to mental health care although cases of “pasung” or shackling of mentally ill patients still exist. 

Besides lacking widespread mental health education, Indonesia also has less than 10,000 registered mental health professionals —psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses—for a population of 270 million people.

In contrast, now that the pandemic has brought health care, especially the lack of proper mental health support for employees, to the forefront, Indonesia has doubled its health budget for 2022.

The state of mental health care in Southeast Asia

In the first five months of 2021 alone, the Malaysian police recorded 468 suicide completions compared to a total of 631 in all 12 months of 2020. Thailand reported a 22 per cent increase in suicide rates in the first six months of 2020 compared to the previous year. And Singapore has the highest suicide rates in Southeast Asia at 11.2 per cent, despite only having a population of under 6 million people.

Increasing suicide rates as a result of pandemic fatigue thrust mental health into the spotlight. Where it was under-prioritised before, mental health is finally being talked about at all levels of society. As a result of public concern and its wide-reaching impact, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) have finally agreed to abolish Section 309 of the Penal Code that criminalised suicide attempts with jail time and fines.

How Naluri is bridging the mental health gap in Southeast Asia

More people need to be able to access reliable mental health services more regularly. In addition to premium offerings like asynchronous chat with a clinical psychologist in the Naluri app which make it as easy as whipping out a mobile phone to access mental health care, Naluri is on a mission to build the largest mental health data set in Southeast Asia.

To do so, the Naluri Mental Health Assessment, a version of the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale or DASS-21 with the Burnout Assessment Tool (BAT-12), is available for free. 

It is a widely recognised mental health self-check that people can complete in under five minutes that calculates a person’s risk for depression, anxiety, and stress. While each assessment result is completely private and confidential, demographical data has been included in the assessment to help build a better understanding of mental health conditions in Southeast Asia.

That’s why Naluri embarked on this vital initiative. It became clear that a more accurate reflection of mental health in Southeast Asia with a fresh dataset can only increase public concern. Accurate data on mental health can improve mental health programmes, allowing employers to realise up to 4.25X ROI for every dollar spent on mental health. This can then prompt faster changes in government policy which will then change the course of how society views mental health conditions in the long run.

Complete Naluri Mental Health Assessment to check in with your mental health and experience premium features on the Naluri app for free for seven days. Alternatively, reach out to hello@naluri.life for more information on how Naluri can benefit you and your employees.

Written by:
Naluri
Published:
30 September 2022