Almost 43 percent of private sector employees in India suffer from mental health issues at work, an Assocham study found. In addition, a WHO report in 2017 found that 18% of depression cases worldwide originated from India.
While mental health issues in the workplace are natural for most businesses, the stigma associated with mental health issues often prevents individuals from seeking professional help. Stigma is the result of negative perceptions and stereotypes and reflects a lack of understanding of these issues. External stigma often involves negative opinions, comments, judgments and assumptions made by others, while internal stigma can occur when the person affected by the mental illness internalizes these negative messages, according to the report. Free newspaper.
While most mental health issues are common and treatable, the negative stereotypes or stigma associated with them often compels employees not to talk about them. Even in fairly progressive workplaces, many employees keep their mental health issues under wraps, fearing that being open to talking about them will jeopardize their work relationships, damage their reputation, or even endanger their jobs.
Employees with untreated mental health issues generally tend to have more serious and costly health issues. For example, their risk of stroke and heart attack is twice as high, and people with mental health problems are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. It all adds up to the day’s work. office failures and loss of productivity that can primarily affect the performance of organizations.
Helping to improve mental health and well-being at work not only benefits employees, but also the company as well as society as a whole. According to experts, organizations can break down the stigma surrounding mental health by:
Awareness programs and open discussions
The more aware individuals are of mental health issues and the challenges they face with such conditions, the less powerful the stigma becomes. Businesses can reduce negative stereotypes, stigma, discrimination and fear in their respective organizations through mental health education. In addition, it is important to create safe spaces for employees to talk about their individual challenges without fear of being “judged” by someone. Employees don’t have to worry about being excluded if they open up to their colleagues. Leaders can set the tone for this question by sharing their own experiences.
More attention to the language
It is a common scenario in different companies to approach people with mental health disorders with words like “Downy”, “Scary”, “Schizo”. This can go a long way in stigmatizing mental health problems. It is time to end such practices and adopt ways to reduce discrimination, prejudice and stigma against people with mental health problems.
Increase access to resources and programs
Various organizations use Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to support mental health in their workplace. Some employees may be reluctant to use this resource due to shame and lack of understanding. Yet they can go a long way in creating an atmosphere that values each person equally and does not create any stigma or discrimination. Organizations can also provide direct access to mental health resources, apps, and even mental health professionals to make employees feel supported and cared for.
Mental health training
Experts say it’s important for every organization to promote a culture that values its employees and understands that it’s natural to suffer from mental health issues. Mental health training for employees can help them recognize the signs of someone who may be struggling with a mental health issue and connect them with supportive resources. They may also offer counseling, through games and other activities, on non-judgmental listening, suicide or self-harm risk assessment, and reassurance.
Making mental health stigma a thing of the past is the need of the hour for organizations, experts say. The typical human bond that each individual shares with their counterpart is more important than what separates a person. Everyone struggles with doubt and anxiety. However, empathy is key to seeing this common ground and building on it to create opportunity and hope for all.
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