The COVID 19 pandemic has impacted our lives socially, mentally and physically. The lines between work and home have blurred exponentially. Previously, many of us could leave our work worries at the office but that is no longer the case. As we stay indoors, our mental health is facing an unprecedented crisis; dealing with the fear of the unknown as we adjust to a new normal.
It’s not simple either. To the outside world, we may seem confident with our beaming smiles. But behind the beaming smile, there are many who suffer from crippling anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. According to the 2016 National Mental Health Survey (NMHS), nearly 150 million Indians are in need of mental health care services at any given point of time, while only less than 30 million seek care. As with physical health, mental health also varies from time to time and immediate treatment is needed.
Why should you act on mental health at work?
- India recently passed The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 which provides persons with mental illness protection. Even the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) have asked health insurance providers to cover mental health problems as part of their policies with immediate effect. It’s now the right of employees to be granted access to mental health care and not doing so will only be bad for business.
- Numerous studies have shown that companies which are more accepting of mental health issues have happier and more productive employees. Not just that, there are significant cost savings when mental health initiatives are implemented at work.
- What are the negatives? The World Health Organization estimates that the world would lose 12 billion workdays to depression and anxiety disorders by 2030 if mental health uptake isn’t scaled up. Of course, the other drawbacks also include absenteeism, unhappy relationships with colleagues/bosses and not to forget – a drop in the retention rate of employees.
Challenges that you will face:
- The size of your firm can affect implementation
- Acceptance of mental health as a problem
- Stigmas associated with mental health discussions
- Managers treating this as a low priority issue
Our advice: Keep at it. The more you keep trying, the more you will see the fruits of your labour.
A four-step approach:
- Have a policy in place
- Build an emotional health support program
- Define objectives of the program
- Get leadership involved