Pandemic, Concerns, Wellbeing, Health, Mental, Income, Economic recovery, survey, study

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As a whole, a third of people surveyed are mainly concerned that the local economy will take a long time to recover (33%).

While countries across Asia have been adapting their policies and practices to live with COVID-19 as a norm, many concerns around health and financial wellness remain, a recent survey by Manulife has found.

In fact, of the 8,000 respondents surveyed in the region, more than two-thirds admitted to experiencing symptoms of mental health concerns in the past six months, including sleeping difficulties, inability to concentrate, excessive worrying, and mood swings.

Additionally, depression ranked fourth among health concerns across all markets at 25%, closely followed by anxiety and burnout at 18% and 14% respectively. 

As a whole, a third of respondents indicated that their main concern about COVID-19 is that the local economy will take a long time to recover (33%), followed by:

  • Worsening mental health (18%),
  • High medical costs (17%),
  • and a lack of insurance to protect themselves and their family (15%).

The survey further discerned that there was a greater need for understanding and awareness of some of the issues around COVID-19. Notably, familiarity with 'long COVID' is surprisingly low at 35% across Asia. Interest is high, however, with 94% wanting to know more.

Financial implications

The financial implications of the pandemic continue to be felt across the region, exposing disparities in the savings patterns and long-term wealth planning of people in the region. While two in five (43%) respondents in Asia say they have saved more since the start of the pandemic, two-thirds (64%) say they have savings that can only support them for a year or less, if they lose their jobs.

To add to the concerns, nearly half (44%) of the respondents say they experienced a decline in their monthly incomes as a result of COVID-19. Interestingly, about one in five (18%) people living in Asia say they have started their own businesses on top of their full-time or part-time jobs.

Singapore

Looking at Singapore specifically, 57% of Singaporeans believe the pandemic will last another 12 months or will never end. Half expect COVID-19 measures, such as social distancing and mask-wearing, to remain in place for at least another year.

The situation is generally met with acceptance, with more than half (52%) showing a readiness to live alongside COVID-19 and get on with life.

While Singaporeans were less concerned about the length of economic recovery (29%) compared to Asia respondents (33%) as a whole, they were more concerned about job or income loss (19%). Singaporeans also indicated concerns about worsening mental health, with just 53% saying their mental health was 'good'. This was higher than Hong Kong (47%) and Japan (43%), but below the region as a whole (64%).

While incomes in Singapore held up better during the pandemic than the rest in the region, a third (34%) of Singaporeans noted that their income has fallen. Consequently, 30% have cut back on unnecessary or big-ticket expenses to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 and mitigate further financial risks. A further one in five (20%) have opted to invest more, and 10% are planning for retirement.

This financial risk is reflected in Singaporeans’ level of savings. In the event of work or income loss, only 28% of Singaporeans have enough savings to last for more than a year, well below the regional average of 36%.

Despite this, 41% of Singaporeans say that they have managed to save more since the pandemic.

Another interesting finding is the number of Singaporeans who have started their own business on top of their full- or part-time jobs. This trend is especially prominent among younger Singaporeans, where there is a seemingly increased interest in entrepreneurship. For example, 14% of Singaporeans aged 25-44 have started their own business on top of their full- and part-time jobs. This suggests Singaporeans have a desire to stay in control of their health and financial affairs.

Looking into Singaporean's wellbeing, work is the leading cause of burnout in Singapore at 46%, twice as high as for the region as a whole (23%). Yet, only half of Singaporeans (52%) feel comfortable with seeking professional mental health advice.

Many Singaporeans also use physical exercise as a mitigating measure, with more Singaporeans (66%) linking physical exercise to improvement in mental health, compared to Japan (51%), China (55%), and Hong Kong (56%).

Malaysia

In Malaysia, 68% of respondents accept that COVID-19 is here to stay.  Similarly, the survey also identified work as one of the top causes of burnout in Malaysia, tied with caring for the family.

Meanwhile, 54% indicated feeling comfortable with seeking professional mental health advice.

Regional

Respondents who accept that COVID-19 will stick around:

  • Hong Kong: 59%
  • Indonesia: 34%
  • Vietnam: 31%

Respondents who have saved more since the pandemic:

  • Malaysia: 43%
  • Hong Kong: 27%
  • Indonesia: 42%
  • Vietnam: 70%

Top causes of burnout:

  • Hong Kong: An individual's own health and wellbeing is the top cause of burnout (work is second); 
  • Indonesia: An individual's own health and wellbeing is the top cause of burnout (work is fourth); 
  • Vietnam: An individual's own health and wellbeing is the top cause of burnout (work is third).

Image / Manulife

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