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Singaporeans working from home more stressed out than frontliners: Survey

SINGAPORE — During the Covid-19 pandemic, Singaporeans working from home have faced higher stress levels compared to frontliners, while women and youth are feeling the negative impact of the pandemic more significantly. This is based on findings from two separate surveys.

A survey showed that 61 per cent of those working from home reported feeling stressed out while working, compared with 53 per cent of frontliners.

A survey showed that 61 per cent of those working from home reported feeling stressed out while working, compared with 53 per cent of frontliners.

  • 61 per cent of those working from home are stressed out at work, versus 53 per cent of frontliners
  • More women said that they felt less supported at home and in the office than men
  • Young people felt more anxious about the pandemic and less mentally resilient than older respondents

 

SINGAPORE — During the Covid-19 pandemic, Singaporeans working from home have faced higher stress levels compared to frontliners, while women and youth are feeling the negative impact of the pandemic more significantly. This is based on findings from two separate surveys.

The surveys, released by the National University Health System (NUHS) Mind Science Centre on Monday (Aug 17), found that more working women said they felt less supported at home and in the office as compared with men, while young people felt more anxious about the pandemic and less mentally resilient than their older counterparts.

Between May and June this year, the centre reached out to a total of 3,256 respondents, to get insights on the perceived stress levels and coping styles of different demographics during the circuit breaker that restricted activites and movement in April and May.

It has also partnered with community resource platform I Am A CCB (Community Care Buddy) to develop more resources for Singaporeans to cope with the pandemic.

The first survey — called the Workplace Resilience Survey— asked respondents how they dealt with stress from work and working from home.

Among the 114 frontliners and 1,074 employees working from home who responded, findings showed that working from home could be equally or more stressful than working on the frontlines.

The results showed that: 

  • 61 per cent of those working from home reported feeling stressed out while working, compared with 53 per cent of frontline workers

  • 51 per cent of those working from home reported feeling stressed out during their off-work hours at home, compared with 32 per cent of frontliners

Senior staff nurse Umi Ummairah Mohamed Marican, 32, told TODAY she was surprised by the findings. As a frontliner, she faces high levels of stress both at work and at home, she said. 

When she returns from a long day at work, the mother of three young children still has to help them with homework and home-based learning programmes, among other things. Two of her children are nine and eight years old and one is two months old. 

At work, she has to look after patients and feel the constant fear of passing on viruses to her loved ones, she added.

However, her colleague Elene Chong, 27, believes that working alongside other frontliners helps with that stress.

“While working with colleagues in the same situation, I feel I can talk to them daily to vent my stress. We are somewhat in it together,” she said.

About half of the survey respondents said that they are receiving adequate support from peers and colleagues (43 per cent), while more than half said that they are receiving adequate support from families (54 per cent).

Only a minority said that they were:

  • Not confident in carrying out tasks effectively (19 per cent)

  • Not able to adapt and cope well with work (21 per cent)

Furthermore, only 21 per cent of respondents disagreed that their institution’s leadership cared about their safety and wellbeing.

WOMEN MORE STRESSED AT WORK AND HOME

The survey also found differences in the stress levels between genders.

Regardless of where they work, women were likelier to report feeling stressed out at work (61.3 per cent) than men (49.7 per cent).

Half of all the women surveyed were also likelier to feel stressed at home, compared with 45.5 per cent of the men.

Among those who work from home, 63.8 per cent of female respondents said that they feel stressed out at work, versus 52.5 per cent of men.

Ms Nur Hanisah, 29, agreed that she has been facing higher stress levels since she started working from home when the circuit breaker began, as it required her to juggle many responsibilities at one time.

The public servant, who is a mother of two children aged two years and nine months, said that on top of juggling work, she has to keep an eye on her two children and complete housework. Most days, her children are placed at a daycare centre.

She said: “Bosses expect the same level of productivity when we work from home but it’s difficult. Now I make it a point to prioritise my work, plan ahead, and work on my time management skills.”

YOUTH LESS MENTALLY RESILIENT

The second survey, called the Mental Health Resilience survey, took in responses from 1,849 Singaporeans, including students, working and non-working adults and retirees.

The findings showed that the age of the respondents correlated with their perception of their own mental resilience — the older they were, the more likely they were to perceive themselves as being mentally resilient.

A higher percentage of older respondents aged 45 and above said that they were:

  • able to handle unpleasant emotions such as sadness, fear and anger (50 per cent) relative to younger respondents (41 per cent)

  • able to stay calm in a difficult situation (47 per cent) compared with younger respondents (39 per cent)

  • confident that they can solve problems in their lives (61 per cent) compared with younger respondents (49 per cent)

Younger respondents, aged below 45, on the other hand, were more likely to report having anxious thoughts and preoccupations:

  • 50 per cent said that they frequently worry that something bad is going to happen to them or their loved ones, compared with 38 per cent of those aged 45 and older

  • 45 per cent said that they often think about things that they cannot change, versus 25 per cent of the older respondents

Men were more likely to report attributes of perceived mental resilience as compared with women, the survey found.

  • 47 per cent of men said that they were able to stay calm in difficult situations, compared with 38 per cent of women

  • 57 per cent of men were confident that they were able to solve problems, versus 50 per cent of women

Associate Professor John Wong, director of NUHS Mind Science Centre and lead clinician in the two surveys, said: “Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the months-long social isolation, uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last and how the economic fallout will play out have contributed to increased anxiety among some Singaporeans.”

He added that the results of the two surveys indicated that the impact on mental health is more keenly felt by certain segments of the population, particularly the youth, working women and those working from home. 

He hopes that by sharing the findings of the poll, Singaporeans would be more aware of their level of mental resilience and be motivated to adjust their mindsets or seek help, where necessary.

 

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