HR Ministry to sponsor initial 10,000 participants of mental health first aid scheme

KUALA LUMPUR: To better combat psychological distress in the workplace, the Human Resources Ministry will sponsor the first 10,000 participants of its newly-announced Occupational Mental Health First Aid (OMHFA) programme.

Its minister Steven Sim said the programme aims to train employees to provide mental health first aid to their colleagues.

"The ministry has allocated RM12mil to train the first 10,000 participants nationwide, including those from the public sector," he said here on Monday (Feb 19).

The programme, developed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh), will have participants undergo training at one of the six Niosh offices across the country.

"Workplace psychosocial issues are serious as the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted mental illness to replace cardiovascular disease as the main deciding factor for a person to continue working," Sim said.

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He also added that the issue was severe in the country as the stigma towards mental health issues caused cases to be heavily underreported.

“Under National Occupational Accident and Disease Statistics 2022, only one psychosocial case was reported compared to other causes such as hearing loss which made up over 5,000 cases.

"This is not because there are no mental illness cases, but instead it shows lack of awareness about mental health and the possible solutions," said Sim.

He added that those eager to participate in the three-day training programme can claim levy from the Human Resource Development Corporation (HRD Corp) after the initial 10,000 sponsored participants.

The programme’s start date has yet to be confirmed but it is expected to be sometime this year, according to the ministry.

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