India’s mental health statistics are staggering. Nearly 56 million Indians suffer from depression and 38 million Indians have anxiety-related disorder. Even though the numbers are huge, conversations around mental health remain taboo, which is why most Indians employees aren’t comfortable expressing their mental health struggles at work. This causes them to continue performing with stressful deadlines and high-pressure work.
For an organisation, it is imperative to address the issues surrounding mental health in the workplace. Failure to take action would not only lead to employee burnout but could also cause attrition rates to spike. It also speaks volumes about an organisation when it educates employees on the importance of sound mental health and encourages employees to talk about their issues.
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With that in mind, here are five ways in which organisations can support their employee’s mental health.
Talk about mental health
The stigma around mental health arises from the lack of discussion about the same. As a manager, you need to talk about the importance of mental health with your employees and let them know that it’s okay to talk about their mental health issues. By addressing the elephant in the room, you can help employees unwind and discuss their issues freely.
Managers can organise group and one-on-one sessions with their team, where team members can discuss any such issue they might be facing. Such forums are also a good way to discuss practices that promote work-life balance for employees. Creating a safe-space to talk and discuss is the first step to addressing mental health at work.
Suggest Mental Health Services Beyond Workplace
The widespread stigmatisation around discussions of mental health in our country has discouraged people from seeking help. However, you can be trailblazers by not only discussing mental health at work but also helping employees find services that are better suited to help them. You can refer psychologists and psychiatrists that your employees can visit. Find and provide health insurance to your employees that incorporates coverage for psychiatric visits and treatment. There are online services like ‘Your Dost and Better Lyf’ which employees can use, if they wish to maintain their anonymity when seeking help.
Additionally, you can provide reading resources and learning guides that employees can refer to get a better grasp of issues, symptoms and treatment. You can also have a mental health professional visit your office to talk about common issues and encourage employees to seek help, if needed.
Invest in Training Managers
A manager has to have prior training and be well-equipped to deal with a situation wherein one of their team members might be experiencing mental health problems. They need to be proficient in conducting difficult conversations and help in resilience building. They need to empathise with employees and motivate them through regular pep talks.
Accordingly, conducting training sessions for managers is of utmost importance. Mental health is a delicate subject-matter and therefore, any training session regarding it needs to be defined and clearly stated. You can employ the use of HRMS solution with which you can define training needs. Most HRMS solutions come with integrated training modules and they can be used to setup and communicate information regarding trainers, faculty, participants and schedule. Since your employees have access to the HRMS solution, managers can easily view training information with ease.
Mentis is one such HRMS software that companies can use in their organisation. It comes with an integrated training module where all the information, regarding training, can be easily uploaded and viewed. Mentis HRMS can be used to create and manage training courses and topics, record training attendance and generate training reports. Additionally, this HRMS solution can be used to create training plan, manage training needs, collect and store employee feedback, and create and monitor training budget. Mentis HRMS with thorough modules ensure that the A-Z of training management is handled with complete ease.
Create Opportunities for Employees to De-stress
Employees spend a significant part of their day at work, which can often be a stressor. To help employees relax and unwind at work, recreational activities should be incorporated periodically. Organise indoor games and board games that can help boost team morale. Many a friendship have been forged over a game of Uno, so give it a whirl at your office.
Managers should encourage their employees to take their leaves and vacation days to destress and relax. They ought to create a workplace environment where taking leaves isn’t deemed as a bad thing and there’s no guilt associated with requests for time off. Try incorporating voluntary time off (VTO) where you let employees take some time off to participate in volunteering activities that they care about.
Create a Safe Work Environment
Depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD etc. are common mental health issues that have one thing in common: they cause a fear of repercussion in the mind of the victim. Repercussions like social isolation, ostracization and being misunderstood, makes sufferers wary of discussing their issues with anyone. While popular culture and media makes us believe that mental health sufferers are loners and introverted, on the contrary, the most happy-go-lucky person in your office could be suffering from crippling anxiety that he/she can’t share for fear of repercussion.
Therefore, it is necessary to create a workplace environment where employees going through difficulties can feel comfortable talking about such issues with their team members, managers and HR. Managers also need to make the effort of assigning work that utilises their employee’s strength and challenges them, without causing them additional stress. Creating a safe and welcoming work environment also helps in preventing productivity drop at work, which arises out of mental stress and discomfort. Knowing that there are people that they can talk to, works wonders for distressed employees.