Mental health refers to overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being, enabling individuals to handle stress, manage interpersonal relationships and make effective decisions. Various internal and external factors affect the mental health of a person and stop them from feeling healthy. However, employees are worried about discussing their mental wellness at work because of its stigma. 42% of corporate employees in India suffer from anxiety or depression.
Misinformation and negative attitudes about mental illness result in discrimination and lack of support. As a result, those who suffer from mental health issues self-medicate using drugs or alcohol instead of seeking professional help. Employers must address this problem by breaking down the stigma and extending necessary support with corporate mental wellness programs.
Why it’s important to destigmatise Mental Illness?
In India, 90% of people with mental illness remain untreated. Mental health issues can take a toll on employers and businesses, leading to increased absenteeism, high staff turnover, and poor performance. This can negatively impact productivity, profits, and increase costs to deal with the issue.
Unfortunately, many employees who suffer from mental health issues may not realize that they could benefit from treatment. Studies have found that low perceived need is a significant barrier to mental health treatment for many individuals.
As a result, employees may blame their tiredness or overwork instead of recognizing the underlying mental health issue. Additionally, managers may struggle to identify these problems in their employees and provide the necessary support.
Instil Workplace Inclusivity
About 47% of the time, employees feel psychologically unsafe due to mental health issues and associated stigma. When there is a supportive environment, employees will be more willing to seek treatment as they won't feel discriminated against at work due to their mental health issues.
Employees and managers should feel safe discussing their mental health issues at work. This change can be brought about in three phases to create awareness, avoid discrimination, and eliminate stigma.
Let’s explore the three phases:
1. Reform Workplace Framework
According to a recent survey, 88% of Indian employees are willing to quit their high-paying job in an unhealthy workplace for better mental well-being. Companies that recognise mental health importance and include mental health and wellness benefits can retain and attract top talent. Every individual responds differently to stress, and understanding is essential to create a supportive work environment.
Following a step-by-step approach to changing the workplace framework is crucial:
- Clarify the meaning of mental wellbeing
- Assess workplace psychological risk factors such as stress due to workload, leadership, support, work recognition, etc.
- Create a checklist of workplace observations and convert them into survey questionnaires
- Based on the survey feedback, revise promoting and hiring policies to remove mental health discrimination
2. Raise Mental Health Awareness
Once the stress causes are identified, leaders should normalise mental health issues in the workplace. Mental health stigma at work stops 39% of employees from seeking professional help. Employers should provide mental health education to break down the stigma and show the effectiveness of treatments.
- Collaborate with local mental health workers to educate them about the management of mental illness
- Invite guest speakers and host seminars for mental health awareness
- Create employee assistance programs and incorporate mental health benefits into your benefits strategy to emphasise mental wellbeing
- Form a health committee at work and circulate newsletters for mental health education
3. Encourage Open Discussion
After employees and leaders have developed positive attitudes towards mental health, the next step is to normalize discussions about mental health issues in the workplace. Encouraging open conversations among employees and managers, forming peer groups for employees with a history of mental health issues, and training leaders on how to recognize mental health issues are effective ways to achieve this goal.
Changing attitudes and modifying company culture is necessary to eliminate the stigma around mental health issues. When implemented correctly, employees will feel comfortable discussing psychological stress and mental health issues in the workplace.
To create a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health, it is necessary to adjust the company culture by redefining the organizational framework and promoting a positive attitude towards psychological well-being through the dissemination of relevant information. When the company is moving in the right direction, employees will feel at ease discussing their mental health issues and psychological stress openly.
Batik, an employee benefits and perks platform, is designed to support employers in empowering their employees to take care of their mental health needs. With flexible benefits, Batik offers a range of options to help employees manage their wellbeing, including access to insurance, fitness benefits and financial wellness programs. By providing employees with the resources they need to support their mental health, Batik helps to create a healthier and more productive workplace environment.