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Findings of the recent Willis Towers Watson (WTW 2018) articulates the importance that mental health is taking in the global agenda of corporate. Not far than few weeks, took place the largest ever gathering of companies to discuss employee mental health in United Kingdom where the HRH The Duke of Cambridge supported and attended personally.  Mission was to bring dialog to tackle mental health problems in the workplace for better employee well-being.

WTW study on India Health and Wellbeing 2018 brings great insight and clearly shows that employees well-being and its components is a concern for the companies and have high priority in addressing it. What is convincing is the breakdown of the wellness aspect to physical, financial, emotional and mental well-being.  While physical and financial are more tangible problems and people can, with some hesitation, report or ask for help and intervention, identifying and addressing mental health problem at workplaces yet remains a challenge.

ASSOCHAM 2015 reports that 42.5% of employees in the private sector suffer from Depression or General Anxiety Disorder and that makes almost 1 in 2 employees. This high prevalence seemed to correlate with the 89% of employers’ response in identifying and managing stress and behavioural issues across work force as a top priority in WTW 2018 study. 

Mental health problems at workplace are not a minority and we see from WTW 2018 study that 66% of employers have already developed or are developing a stress mental health strategy for their employees. While this is quite an encouraging figure and action, employers are facing challenges of implementation like lack of evidences to measure the impact, lack of employee engagement with health and well-being programs and lack of solution technology to deliver well-being programs.

Mental Health First Aid program implemented in 25 countries across the globe have been embraced by many corporate for their employees. Experience has taught some very important things when it comes to mental health at workplaces.

  1. Start introducing the concept and knowledge on Mental Health. We need to Talk Mental Health. Stigma, myths and fears associated with mental health and its problems result from lack of appropriate knowledge about it. Not talking “mental health” may lead to invisible & large barriers which makes the team members:

·        Feel unsupported, embarrassed and insecure if experiencing mental health problems.

·        Choose not to talk about their mental health problems or illnesses thereby struggling with performance and inefficiency.

·        Camouflage mental health problems with behavioural and psycho somatic symptoms until it becomes a crisis.

  1. Bring quality and evidence-based education on mental health for the employees and encourage participation. Lack of participation on well-being programs may be because of the non-adequate quality and benefits that employee finds in them.

  2. Many people with mental health problem do not seek help. Imparting skills and sharing responsibilities among team members in identifying on early stages and approaching to help in addressing the problem might be a more practical and effective action.

  3. Keep the education and activities on mental health all around. Sporadic activities will not help in a sustainable approach. Moreover, it will be difficult to measure the impact or the intervention outcomes.

Mental Health First Aid is the help offered to a person close to you who is developing a mental health problem or is in crisis. Mental health first aid is typically offered by someone who is not a mental health professional, rather by someone in the social network (like family member, work colleague, or friend).  Just like physical first aid, people need to be taught on how to pick up the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, how to approach and guide towards professional early help seeking.

25 Dec 2018