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Mental health and well-being in the workplace
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Mental health and well-being in the workplace

Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K/Happiest Health

A positive work environment reduces stress, conflicts and enhances performance and productivity. A recent survey by a news integrator showed that 35 per cent of the 4.5 lakh respondents were open to talking about their mental health, and mental well-being with their family and friends. Shirin Salis, vice president, Human Resources, Trane Technologies, shared insights from this survey revealing a growing openness about mental health.

Addressing the panel session on mental health and workplace well-being at the Happiest Health – Mind Matters Summit 2023 on 9 December 2023, Salis emphasised that individuals within the organisation are increasingly adopting a more open and candid approach when discussing matters related to mental well-being. However, she expressed concern that some people still feel uncomfortable discussing such topics.

“It also depends on the cultural background where they come from, how they’re brought up, whether talking about mental health was a taboo. It depends on those backgrounds as well,” she added.

Normalising vulnerability

Encouraging openness and normalising vulnerability is challenging but act as powerful tools to create a space where the employees feel that they can seek help when needed. It is the leadership’s responsibility to create an environment where it is okay to not feel okay.

“Organisations are now open about talking about mental health issues, because they found that productivity and other dimensions are directly linked with mental health,” said Dr Jini Gopinath, consultant clinical psychologist and certified clinical hypnotherapist.

However, challenges still exist when discussing workplace mental health issues.

Speaking about the same, Anisha Padukone, chief executive officer, LiveLoveLaugh, said, “What we are seeing, especially in organisations and workplaces, is having resources doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being utilised.”

And one of the biggest challenges is uptake and utilisation of these services, which primarily comes from stigma or fear within an organisation. Padukone said, “People think will they lose their job if they seek help from a counsellor even if it may be a third party.”

She added that a lot of these factors depend on the culture that has been built within the organisation.

Actionable well-being practices

While Dr Gopinath addressed post-COVID mental health issues affecting productivity and relationships, Salis stressed on organisational interventions, including employee assistance programmes, family-focused initiatives, and manager training as actionable well-being practices.

Mental Health support as an additional cost?

All three panellists agreed that it is important for organisations to see mental health programmes as investments rather than expenses. There is a positive shift in mental health discourse within workplaces, with ongoing challenges to overcome.

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