Humans have survived over the long history of this planet only because of their resilience. And our resilience is not counted on the physical capacity alone but at the mental capacity also. As the COVID-19 pandemic is still distressing the lives of many people it becomes important for us to be resilient. It is also important for the leaders to lead by example during this time and spread positivity to those around them.
As the entire world is battling the COVID-19 situation, mental health is also one of the important topics that needs to be discussed equally at the level of physical health. Experts have predicted that the mental health effects of COVID-19 will last longer than the pandemic. It is only with the help of early identification and timely treatment we can address the mental health issues before they develop into mental illnesses or a crisis.
Workers are slowly getting back to their workplaces and this is the right time for workplaces to look out for the mental health of their employees at the earliest. It is estimated that at least 43% of working people are affected by a mental health problem. It is calculated that between the years 2012-2030 the cost of mental health to Indian economy is 1.03 trillions USD (Source: WHO). This clearly shows that it is the need of the hour for businesses in India to address mental health problems with due importance.
This is the right time for the employers to focus their efforts on the mental health of the employees. Thinking in the preventive aspect, employers can build psychological resilience in their employees by following simple methods. Activities such as regular light exercises, good sleep, practicing mindfulness and avoiding negative coping like substance abuse will surely help (Source: American psychological Association).
Mental health problems also show some signs and symptoms which can be observed by colleagues around them. These signs & symptoms are not usually picked up by peers since there is a lack of mental health education in our society. By addressing the issues such as early identification of a developing mental health problem and guiding the person towards professional help will ensure that needed is given to the person. Currently in India out of 100 persons who are affected with a common mental illness only 15 persons seek professional help and get treated. The remaining 85 persons spend their lives without getting the required help. This situation can be addressed by having open discussions on mental health, providing quality education about mental health and training people on practical life skills to help those in need.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an international, evidence based course that encompasses the above mentioned qualities. MHFA India has been offering the course to workplaces and training the employees on the skills of mental health first aid for the past 2 years. MHFA course has been well received across various workplaces in India in various domains such as pharma, travel, diplomatic mission and automobile industry. Very recently, MHFA India has made the standard mental health training course into a fully online blended course to provide contactless training sessions. This move has been appreciated by workplaces from all corners of the country. MHFA aims to train as many as workplaces in this year to prepare a mentally aware and balanced workplace across the entire country.
Dr. Thirumaal A. (MHFA India Officer)