Why Companies Should Invest in their Employees’ Mental Health
Human resource departments should promote mental health education, encourage mental health days off, and engage in other practices that show the company’s investment in the mental wellbeing of its employees.
We often associate mental health problems with the idle mind. “He has never had a job which has made him depressed,” “Her family has a history of mental issues, so she has never worked.” In fact, one of our first responses is to tell people who are going through mental health concerns that getting a job and focusing on their work will make them feel better. While it may be true that staying productive is good for the mind, excessive workload or challenges that exceed one’s ability can have the opposite effect. A significant number of individuals who are actively in the workforce in India have mental health concerns. These concerns range from depression to substance abuse.
As of January 2016, there were about 15 lakh registered companies in India. This means that even though a large number of the Indian workforce is a part of the unorganised sector, a substantial number of individuals work in organisations. In many of these organisations, the average workweek consists of 6 working days, amounting to 48-60 hours of work by an employee. This can lead to the detrimental combination of a tremendous amount of stress with not enough time for self-care.
Impending deadlines, inadequate communication with management, unclear job profiles, and lack of job security are issues that are seen in many companies. These difficulties, along with many others, can lead to increasing stress among employees. With stress comes ill health and consequently, poor performance and even absenteeism. Everyone has the right to a work environment that maintains their dignity, and is secure and appropriately challenging. This right is lopsided in favour of those who are mentally healthy. For people who have mental health concerns, finding that balance can be particularly challenging.
It is in the best interest of the company to invest in its employees’ mental wellness. In the same way that it behooves an organisation to provide physical health benefits such as sick days, gym memberships, and healthier food options in canteens, there is an overall advantage of offering mental health accommodations as well.
Depression and many other mental health conditions affect the parts of the brain that are associated with concentration, focus, and motivation. Individuals who are mentally and physically fit are more likely to be engaged in their work, meet deadlines, have better working relationships with colleagues, and take less time off. Mental wellbeing can positively impact individuals, and ultimately have a better outcome for the organisation in which they work.
Human resource departments should promote mental health education, encourage mental health days off, and engage in other practices that show the company’s investment in the mental wellbeing of its employees. Employee assistance programs are being set up in companies around the world, following research that suggests growth in employee satisfaction and overall productivity. The workplace is a fitting environment in which to raise awareness about the importance of mental wellness and to reduce the stigma surrounding stress induced mental health concerns. As India continues its journey to the top of the list of economically advanced nations, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the mental wellness of the workforce behind this progress.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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