Mind Matters: Exploring Employees' Mental Health Literacy in the Hotel Industry


  • Nurfatihah Mazlan Department of Hotel Management, Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Cawangan Selangor, Malaysia
  • Norzuwana Sumarjan Department of Hotel Management, Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Cawangan Selangor, Malaysia
  • Khairun Najiah Ahmad Department of Tourism Management, Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Cawangan Selangor, Malaysia
  • Nadia Hanin Nazlan Department of Hotel Management, Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA Cawangan Selangor, Malaysia
  • Dwi Suhartanto Department of Business Administration, Commerce Administration, Politeknik Negeri Bandung, Bandung, Indonesia




Mental Health, Mental Health Literacy , Hospitality


One in five hospitality employees suffers from work-related mental health issues. Thus, promoting mental health literacy could better manage employees’ mental health. This study aims to explore mental health literacy among hotel employees. Ten hotel employees from four- and five-star hotels in Malaysia were interviewed and thematic analysis was conducted. Findings show employees demonstrated sound mental health literacy manifested into four themes: function of mental health, mental illness contributors, implications of mental illness, and intervention techniques. Mental health literacy empowers employees to recognize signs of mental illness, promoting prompt help-seeking and preventing further deterioration of mental health.


Aguiar-Quintana, T., Nguyen, T. H., Araujo-Cabrera, Y., & Sanabria-Díaz, J. M. (2021) Do job insecurity, anxiety and depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic influence hotel employees’ self-rated task performance? The moderating role of employee resilience. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 94, 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2021.102868 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2021.102868

Behere, A. P., Basnet, P., & Campbell, P. (2017). Effects of family structure on mental health of children: A preliminary study. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 39(4), 457-463. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.211767 DOI: https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.211767

Borenstein, J. (2020). Stigma and discrimination. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/stigma-and-discrimination

Boyd, C. O. (2001). Phenomenology the method. In nursing research: A qualitative perspective (3rd ed., pp. 93-122). Jones & Bartlett Learning.

British Safety Council. (2018). Workplace wellbeing – Is it working? https://www.britsafe.org/about-us/press-releases/2018/workplace-wellbeing-is-it-working/

Calvalho, M., Rahim, R., & Tan, T. (2023). KL has highest number of depression, anxiety cases, says Dr Zaliha. The Star. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2023/03/08/kl-has-highest-number-of-depression-anxiety-cases-says-dr-zaliha

Carmichael, A., Coe, E. H., & Dewhurst, M. (2022). Employee mental health and burnout in Asia: A time to act. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-asia/employee-mental-health-and-burnout-in-asia-a-time-to-act

Castro-Casal, C., Vila-Vázquez, G., & Pardo-Gayoso, Á. (2019). Sustaining affective commitment and extra-role service among hospitality employees: Interactive effect of empowerment and service training. Sustainability, 11(15), 4092. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154092 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154092

Chiang, F. F., Birtch, T. A., & Kwan, H. K. (2010). The moderating roles of job control and work-life balance practices on employee stress in the hotel and catering industry. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 29(1), 25-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2009.04.005 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2009.04.005

Citrome, L. L. (2022). Aggression: Overview, epidemiology, assessment and differential diagnosis. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/288689-overview?form=fpf

Constanti, P., & Gibbs, P. (2005). Emotional labour and surplus value: The case of holiday ‘reps’. The Service Industries Journal, 25(1), 103-116. https://doi.org/10.1080/0264206042000302432 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0264206042000302432

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). SAGE.

Elshaer, A. M. (2019). Labor in the tourism and hospitality industry: Skills, ethics, issues, and rights (1st ed.). Apple Academic Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429465093

Ferguson, S. (2020). Yes, mental illness can cause physical symptoms — Here's why. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/mental-illness-can-cause-physical-symptoms

Ganesh, V. S. (2022). Mental health awareness and screening should be conducted at workplace to address suicides. New Straits Time. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2022/06/801635/mental-health-awareness-and-screening-should-be-conducted-workplace

Gilmour, H., & Patten, S.B. (2007). Depression and work impairment. Health reports, 18(1), 9-22.

Grinspoon, P. (2022). How to recognize and tame your cognitive distortions. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-recognize-and-tame-your-cognitive-distortions-202205042738

Haddad, P., & Haddad, I. (2015). Mental health stigma. The British Association for Psychopharmacology. https://www.bap.org.uk/articles/mental-health-stigma/

Hakim, L. (2023). RM34.5m boost for mental healthcare, support services. New Straits Times. https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2023/08/938692/rm345m-boost-mental-healthcare-support-services

Hassan, M. F., Hassan, N. M., Kassim, E. S., & Hamzah, M. I. (2018). Issues and challenges of mental health in Malaysia. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 8(12), 1685–1696. https://doi.org/10.6007/ijarbss/v8-i12/5288 DOI: https://doi.org/10.6007/IJARBSS/v8-i12/5288

Ibrahim, N., Amit, N., Shahar, S., Wee, L., Ismail, R., Khairuddin, R., Siau, C. S., & Safien, A. M. (2019). Do depression literacy, mental illness beliefs and stigma influence mental health help-seeking attitude? A cross-sectional study of secondary school and university students from B40 households in Malaysia. BMC Public Health, 19(S4). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6862-6 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6862-6

Jansson, I., & Gunnarsson, A. B. (2018). Employers’ views of the impact of mental health problems on the ability to work. Work, 59(4), 585-598. https://doi.org/10.3233/wor-182700 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3233/WOR-182700

Jenius. (2019). Mental health for employees. Sihat Malaysia. https://sihatmalaysia.my/mental-health-for-employees/

Jorm, A. F., Korten, A. E., Jacomb, P. A., Christensen, H., Rodgers, B., & Pollitt, P. (1997). Mental health literacy: A survey of the public's ability to recognise mental disorders and their beliefs about the effectiveness of treatment. Medical Journal of Australia, 166(4), 182-186. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.1997.tb140071.x DOI: https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.1997.tb140071.x

Kesby, J. (2020). How do mental disorders impact our decision-making? The University of Queensland Australia. https://qbi.uq.edu.au/blog/2020/10/how-do-mental-disorders-impact-our-decision-making#:~:text=But%20mental%20disorders%20often%20cause,longer%20as%20valuable%20as%20B

Khan, M. A., & Hashim, H. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 on tourism and hospitality industry in Malaysia, resurgence in the post-pandemic era: A conceptual criterion. International Journal of Tourism & Hospitality Reviews, 7(2), 54-62. https://doi.org/10.18510/ijthr.2020.726 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18510/ijthr.2020.726

Khan, K. I., Niazi, A., Nasir, A., Hussain, M., & Khan, M. I. (2021). The effect of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry: The implication for open innovation. Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, 7(1), 30. https://doi.org/10.3390/joitmc7010030 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/joitmc7010030

Khatib, A., & Abo-Rass, F. (2021). Mental health literacy among Arab university students in Israel: A qualitative study. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/00207640211036167 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00207640211036167

Kotera, Y., Adhikari, P., & Van Gordon, W. (2018). Motivation types and mental health of UK hospitality workers. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 16(3), 751-763. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9874-z DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-018-9874-z

Kutcher, S., Wei, Y., & Coniglio, C. (2016). Mental health literacy. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(3), 154-158. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743715616609 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743715616609

Kwan, F. (2022). How can workplaces effectively support employees' mental health? Astro Awani. https://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/how-can-workplaces-effectively-support-employees-mental-health-385224

Ma, C., Ren, L., & Zhao, J. (2021). Coping with stress: How hotel employees fight to work. Sustainability, 13(19), 10887. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910887 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910887

Midin, M., Zainal, N. Z., Toh, C. L., & Ibrahim, N. (2018). Mental health services in Malaysia. Taiwanese Journal of Psychiatry, 32(4), 281-292.

Mohamed Hussain, S. N., Husna, H., Azfar, M. A., Ismail, S., & Mohd Nazan, A. I. (2020). Sociodemographic factors of mental health literacy among housewives living in low-cost apartments in Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences, 16(1), 121-125.

Mulvaney, R. H., O’Neill, J. W., Cleveland, J. N., & Crouter, A. C. (2007). A model of work-family dynamics of hotel managers. Annals of Tourism Research, 34(1), 66-87. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2006.07.002

Munawar, K., Mukhtar, F., Choudhry, F. R., & Ng, A. L. (2021). Mental health literacy: A systematic review of knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders in Malaysia. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 14(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1111/appy.12475 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/appy.12475

Nadrian, H., Taghdisi, M. H., Pouyesh, K., Khazaee-Pool, M., & Babazadeh, T. (2019). “I am sick and tired of this congestion”: Perceptions of Sanandaj inhabitants on the family mental health impacts of urban traffic jam. Journal of Transport & Health, 14, 100587. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2019.100587 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jth.2019.100587

Nealon, M. (2021). The pandemic accelerant: How COVID-19 advanced our mental health priorities. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/un-chronicle/pandemic-accelerant-how-covid-19-advanced-our-mental-health-priorities

Okello, E. S., Abbo, C., Muhwezi, W. W., Akello, G., & Ovuga, E. (2014). Mental health literacy among secondary school students in North and Central Uganda: A qualitative study. World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review: Official Journal of World Association of Cultural Psychiatry, 9(3), 70–80.

Park, E., Kim, W., & Kim, S. (2020). Tracking tourism and hospitality employees’ real- time perceptions and emotions in an online community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Current Issues in Tourism, 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2020.1823336 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2020.1823336

Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2014.0070 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2014.0070

Reichenberg, A., & MacCabe J. H.. (2007). Feeling the pressure: Work stress and mental health. Psychological Medicine, 37(8), 1073-1074. doi:10.1017/S0033291707000888 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291707000888

Rathod, S., Pinninti, N., Irfan, M., Gorczynski, P., Rathod, P., Gega, L., & Naeem, F. (2017). Mental health service provision in low- and middle-income countries. Health Services Insights, 10, 117863291769435. https://doi.org/10.1177/1178632917694350 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1178632917694350

Royal Society for Public Health. (2019). Service with(out) a smile. Royal Society for Public Health UK. https://www.rsph.org.uk/about-us/news/one-in-five-hospitality-workers-suffer-from-work-related-severe-mental-health-issues.html

Sachdev, P. (2021). What is emotional dysregulation? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-emotional-dysregulation

UNICEF, National Institutes of Health Malaysia, & Burnet Institute. (2022). Strengthening mental health and psychosocial support systems and services for children and adolescents in East Asia and Pacific Region: Malaysia country report. UNICEF.

Sayeed, A., Kundu, S., Banna, H. A., Christopher, E., Hasan, M. T., Begum, M. R., Chowdhury, S., & Khan, S. I. (2020). Mental health outcomes of adults with comorbidity and chronic diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic: A matched case-control study. Psychiatria Danubina, 32(3-4), 491-498. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/qh6b5https://www.unicef.org/eap/media/11811/file/Malaysia%20Country%20Report.pdf DOI: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/qh6b5

Semrau, M., Alem, A., Ayuso-Mateos, J. L., Chisholm, D., Gureje, O., Hanlon, C., Jordans, M., Kigozi, F., Lund, C., Petersen, I., Shidhaye, R., &Thornicroft, G. (2019). Strengthening mental health systems in low- and middle-income countries: Recommendations from the Emerald programme. BJPsych Open, 5(5).112 https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2018.90 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2018.90

Tepeci, M., & Bartlett, A. (2002). The hospitality industry culture profile: A measure of individual values, organizational culture, and person–organization fit as predictors of job satisfaction and behavioral intentions. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 21(2), 151-170. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0278-4319(01)00035-4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0278-4319(01)00035-4

Tsaur, S., & Tang, Y. (2012). Job stress and well-being of female employees in hospitality: The role of regulatory leisure coping styles. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 31(4), 1038-1044. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2011.12.009 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2011.12.009

Yampolskaya, S., Mowery, D., & Dollard, N. (2013). Predictors for readmission into children’s inpatient mental health treatment. Community Mental Health Journal, 49(6), 781-786. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-013-9592-8 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-013-9592-8

Varga, S., Mistry, T. G., Ali, F., & Cobanoglu, C. (2021). Employee perceptions of wellness programs in the hospitality industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 33(10), 3331-3354. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijchm-12-2020-1417 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-12-2020-1417

World Health Organization (2004). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence, practice: Summary report. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/en/promoting_mhh.pdf

Zhao, X., & Ghiselli, R. (2016). Why do you feel stressed in a “smile factory”? International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 28(2), 305-326. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijchm-08-2014-0385 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-08-2014-0385




How to Cite

Mazlan, N., Sumarjan, N., Ahmad, K. N., Nazlan, N. H., & Suhartanto, D. (2023). Mind Matters: Exploring Employees’ Mental Health Literacy in the Hotel Industry. Environment-Behaviour Proceedings Journal, 8(26), 465–472. https://doi.org/10.21834/e-bpj.v8i26.5126