For many, the pandemic has taken a huge toll on mental health
In June, Malaysia recorded at least four suicide cases a day within the first three months of this year alone. Based on data from Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), the figure is said to be more than half of the total reported cases in 2020.
Quoted by The Star, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah warned that if depression is not addressed in individuals, many continue to face the risk of suicidal behaviour.
To care for its employees' mental well-being during these turbulent times, myBurgerLab has decided to take a five-day break beginning 26 July
In a Facebook post today, 15 July, the company announced that all stores will temporarily close for five days to raise a Mental Health Awareness Red Flag.
The local burger joint's co-founder, Renyi Chin, reveals that since the start of the first Movement Control Order (MCO), the team faced challenges and worked hard to come up with solutions to stay alive, which helped them barely scrape by 2020.
"We then entered 2021 full of hope and renewed vigor. The team was ready to conquer the new post-Covid world. Or so we thought," he pens, adding that they continued to make plans and hope for better days
"However, here we are today, staring at 11k cases, with the National Recovery Plan dictating that no dine-in will happen until phase three and god knows how far away that is."
"Honestly, we are mentally defeated. For the last 483 days since MCO1.0 started, we persevered and held on, but enough is enough. In the last five to six weeks, we observed cracks within our organisation. Even the toughest of us find it hard to hold our heads up on the best of days."
He details how each team battled their own challenges, from working around changing standard operating procedures (SOPs) to managing expectations of thousands of impatient riders and customers, all while 'dodging' COVID-19 cases
"For 483 days, the Marketing and PR team, worked tirelessly to attend to all social media interactions, create fun and relevant content, address PR disasters, and are constantly on the phone fielding queries everyday-day-and-night."
"For 483 days, the Central Kitchen worked every day to ensure the stores have a constant supply of high-quality ingredients to meet the sales demand. They too are constantly seeking and negotiating with different suppliers as ingredient prices soar or go out of stock due to lockdowns."
Aside from that, he explains that the Human Resources (HR) team has had to navigate staff shortage issues, mental health issues among some employees, as well as dealing with "rogue enforcement trying to find issues with [its] Geeks (a term used for myBurgerLab's employees) while working or going past roadblocks".
"For 483 days, the Finance team had to worry about payments being made and salary being issued on time. Every month, depending on the SOP and market sentiments, it's like playing Russian Roulette when it comes to the PnL (profit and loss)."
The co-founder shares that though they are lucky enough to remain open during this pandemic, it has still taken a toll on the team's mental state
"We are all thrown into a pressure cooker with no release valve. From a business perspective, during lockdowns, without dine-in as an option, all sales through our delivery partners mean that we are channeling all profits to them due to the commission structure. Not blaming anyone, but we are not built for this 'lockdown' model."
All this has led to the burger joint's decision as a team to close for five days this month. This is so that every Geek, "from Store Operations to Central Kitchen to HQ Support level, [will] have a decent break since the pandemic began on 18th March 2020".
"Let's forget about profitability and hustle culture for a moment."
What good is profit/breakeven if our team suffers long-term emotional damage from pushing too hard just to 'stay alive'.
He agrees that though this is not a long-term solution, it's the least that can be done in the midst of all the craziness going on
"We will also be taking time during this period to reassess how we will be moving forward as a company when it comes to taking care of our Geeks mental well-being in a post-Covid world."
"Some might say: 'Wow, you can afford to close when others want to open.'"
"Here's my answer: 'It's not that we can afford to close. It's that we can't afford to lose our people.'"
All myBurgerLab outlets will shut temporarily from 26 July to 30 July.
Leading up to its Mental Health Closure Week, you may continue to support them directly by ordering from their website.
Or head to any of their branches located in the following areas:
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
If you or anyone you know is lonely, distressed, or having negative thoughts, please call these Malaysian hotlines:
1. BEFRIENDERS KL
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook | Twitter
2. TALIAN KASIH
Email: [email protected]
Website | Facebook
3. BUDDY BEAR CHILDLINE
Daily (12pm - 12am)
Email: [email protected]
Facebook | Instagram
For a more thorough directory of resources, head over to the websites of Malaysian Mental Health Association or MINDAKAMI.
If you're struggling to cope mentally, reach out to someone you can trust. Or you can talk to any of these counsellors and therapists: