‘Favouritism, marginalisation can cause mental stress’

MIRI: Many of us are not aware that mental health is important to ensure good quality of life.

It is reported that by 2020, mental illness is expected to be the second biggest health problem affecting Malaysians after heart disease.

Issues like favouritism and marginalisation at work could cause mental stress and according to Dr Raja Adam Lope, a psychiatrist at Miri Hospital, favouritism in the workplace occurs when a certain group of workers, usually those in higher authority, gives special treatment to some subordinates and  marginalise others at the same time.

It is important to note that mental health issues at work is a silent killer, like when an employer ignores the problem his employees are experiencing which may affect their performance, quality and productivity.

Favouritism is the act of giving unfair preferential treatment to certain people at the expense of others and marginalisation is to exclude certain people or to ignore them.

“Favouritism may cause problems not only to those that were not favoured, but also to those receiving the special treatment. Those not favoured will feel envious, low self-esteem, hatred towards colleagues, feel dejected and unmotivated, feel unappreciated, may not improve in skills and experience due to lack of opportunity.

“While for favoured workers, they could risk being out cast  by other workers, receive taunts and jeers from unsatisfied colleagues, (suffer) lack of improvement as they have been pampered by the employers, unmotivated to work harder and for employers, those favoured too have setbacks, they may be disliked by their workers, find it difficult to get cooperation from all workers, company’s counter production as a result of favouritism may cause negative emotions to the employers,” he told The Borneo Post.

Dr Raja Adam said there are many examples of favouritism at work; favouritism can be intentional or unintentional, clearly seen or undetected and there are specific types of favouritism.

“Nepotism – practice of hiring family members into the company, cronyism – hiring friends despite their qualification and even sexual favours – using sexual attraction as a mean to get special treatment.

“There are a lot more of unspecific favouritism such as unfair promotions, assigning favourable duties to certain workers, inviting for business trips/conferences only certain people and also open to ideas and suggestions of certain employees only,” he explained.

He further clarified that good communication skills between employers and employees, and among the employees are important in addressing the issue apart from practising professionalism in the office and proper work etiquettes.

Negative work environments will bring a variety of physical and mental illnesses including behavioural problems that cause employees to be self-reliant and decline in workmanship.

“A healthy working environment is vital in building a positive working place, thus holding motivational camps, incentive programme and training for higher managements and employers could help deal with such situations,” he said.

He reiterated that favouritism can be detrimental to the mental health and those involved may develop low self-esteem and lack of motivation.

“If unchecked, the unhappiness at work, stress and feeling of unappreciated may develop into mood disorders, such as major depression, and anxiety disorders.

“For those who are biologically prone to develop mental disorder, for example family history of schizophrenia, the stress, pressure at work, plus poor coping skills, can be precipitating factors for the illness to occur.

“It is advisable for those who find it stressful and difficult to cope at work to seek help as early as possible. Help can be found in many ways: sharing their problems with friends and loved ones, counselling or seeking advice from the nearest doctor. Early detection and prevention is better than cure, but any form of treatment is far better than none at all,” he said.

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