The need for mental health education at workplace
Most of us in the productive age group spend a good amount of our day at the workplace. Workplaces are typically multicultural environments where different people from different backgrounds come together. The interactions we have at the workplace certainly have a lasting impact on our performance and our personal life too. One of the main impacts that the workplace can have is on the mental health of the employee. So, the office is the right place where most of us should be talking about our mental health.
But, unfortunately like in the rest of the world, mental health is a culturally taboo topic in India too. While most of the workplaces empower their employees with policies and codes it is rare to see a workplace which fully and unconditionally extends support towards the good mental health of their employees. Nevertheless, scientific research has been conducted over the years about mental health and workplaces and new evidence supporting mental health initiatives at workplaces and their impact on the employees.
A 2018 study by Moll et.al. showed that the employees who underwent mental health training programmes increased mental health literacy, improved attitudes towards seeking treatment, and decreased stigmatized beliefs. All these behavioural changes were also shown to be sustained over a period of time. Another meta-analysis in 2018 showed that the managers who were trained in mental health showed non-stigmatising attitudes towards mental health, and were more effective in supporting employees experiencing mental health problems. A study done more recently in 2019 showed that factors like workplace offering lectures on common mental disorders, workplace offering stress counselling, management training on common mental disorders were influential in managerial preventive actions (MPAs) in relation to common mental disorders at work. Mental Health First Aid Australia conducted a randomized controlled trial in two government offices in 2002 showed that there was significant improvement in the confidence of the participants to provide help to others, the participants’ own mental health and mental health literacy. These studies establish the importance of mental health at workplaces undoubtedly.
It is also important to talk about mental health at the workplace since early identification of mental health problems is entirely possible. When workplaces empower their employees with quality mental health education it leads to better mental health literacy and employees are able to identify any deviation from the normal behaviour of their colleagues. Another advantage of this is, colleagues can freely give mental health advice information to their peers and guide them towards proper professional help. Only 17% of people with mental illness in our country seek professional treatment. A majority of the 83% of the population may not even realise that they are experiencing a mental health problem due to lack of mental health literacy.
Research in workplaces in India shows that 42% of office goers are experiencing some sort of mental health problem. Many of them may not realise this or may not go for professional treatment fearing the stigmatizing attitudes of their family and friends. MHFA Mental Health First Aid India wants to make a change to this situation. Our goal is to make mental health one of the priorities in every workplace so that every person can enjoy good mental health. Our work is purely evidence-based which has shown again and again that MHFA training to the employees and managers makes a positive difference in the workplace. The first step towards making a mentally healthy workplace is to talk about it. Let’s make mental health a top priority in our discussions today!