Growing up in India, we have been exposed to competition and stress from a young age. Whether it’s preparation for JEE, NEET, CA or CAT, we have had a toll taken on our mental health at some or the other point in our academic life. The same goes for one’s corporate life.
Many of us think that once we are done with education, corporate life will be a breeze and life will be a bed of roses. However, the anxiety and pressure one faces while working in the rat race is equivalent, if not more. A healthy mental health needs to be given as much attention and care as physical health.
According to the WHO, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Most of the focus in India is around disease management and cure. Mental health, on the other hand, is mostly ignored because it has no real physical manifestation.
Described as a ‘silent killer’, stress has been reported to be the root cause of various illnesses and conditions, with depression and anxiety rates in India among children and adults reaching high numbers. About 9.8 million Indian teenagers need active intervention to treat anxiety and depression related issues.
Despite the average mental health deteriorating at an alarming rate, we hardly find anyone talking about it. The stigma around mental health, along with the conservative Indian mindset, has made it impossible to address mental health concerns, let alone be included in our healthcare management system. Indian corporates, while allotting money under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), largely focus on physical health and education, often neglecting mental health in the process.
Indian corporates, backed by strong financials and manpower, can do much more to combat the taboo around mental health. Companies can work towards a healthier mindset for its employees by providing adequate training, introducing welfare schemes, having an in-house psychologist, having blogs and seminars, providing psychological or financial help are just some of the ways. Indian companies need to step up and take a stand for mental health.
Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, Founder, Suasth Hospital, says:
“With the rise of tele-health services, companies can have tie-ups with healthcare organisations that offer corporate wellness programs and online services to a psychologist or clinical psychiatrist. Promotion of safe workplace practices amongst employees, unique, and customised wellness programmes can help employees deal with the current situation in a better way. With speedy improvements in artificial intelligence, each passing day brings more convenient apps for both diagnosis of early warning signs and primary assessment. The final diagnosis requires an assessment by a qualified and trained mental health professional. Companies can create a checklist to help the employees to recognise such mental health issues.”
However, a few exceptions in the corporate world have actually started addressing mental health, and have taken initiatives to ensure their employee’s have a positive mental health.
Infosys Foundation (the CSR arm of Infosys) has helped in the construction of a 7,500 sq ft building at Chittadhama in Karnataka, an initiative in collaboration with the Chittaprakasha Charitable Trust, which provides rehabilitation for mentally affected persons.
The CSR team of TCS has been part of the mental health movement by extending support to its employees and students through podcasts, blogs and webinars. Keeping in mind the diverse segments in the organisation, such as the LGBTQ+ community, those with disabilities, the webinar sessions are organised to explore the interdependence between resilience and workplace effectiveness.
Founded by Neerja Birla, Mpower, a social enterprise that helps address mental health issues, has been extensively working in areas such as awareness-building campaigns, clinical services as well as awareness-building workshops.
It was founded with a vision to #StampOutStigma around the idea of seeking help for various mental health concerns. While there has been a positive change in how companies view mental health, the corporate world can do much more to join the mental health revolution, and give it as much importance as physical health.