Thursday, July 25, 2024

World Mental Health Day: Fostering mental health resilience at workplace

New Delhi, Oct 10 (IANSlife) World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10, International SOS, the world’s leading health and security risk services company, puts a spotlight on the increasing importance of mental health resilience for global workforces. In a global landscape in which there are ongoing poly- and permacrises, the impact of these challenges on the mental health of employees has never been more significant. A global pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, geopolitical challenges, and the accelerating rate of change in today’s workplace have placed unprecedented stressors on individuals and organisations worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 15 percent of working-age adults lived with a mental disorder in 2019, and 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety alone (1). International SOS Assistance Centre has already seen a 5 percent increase in the number of requests for assistance related to mental illness during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Poor working environments, including discrimination and inequality, excessive workloads, low job control, and job insecurity all pose a risk to mental health. Without effective support, mental illness can impact an individual’s capacity to work productively, absences, and the ease with which they can retain or gain work.

Vikram Vora, Medical Director at International SOS said, “Indian subcontinent highlights that the unique challenge of having 1 out of every 7 Indians affected by mental health and wellbeing issues can only be met through a comprehensive understanding of the psychosocial risk landscape followed by concrete and coordinated action. Employers, leaders, and managers need to be aware and accept that the rapidly evolving world of today, especially after the pandemic, is no longer a place where employees feel naturally safe and protected. Problems like economic uncertainty, uncertain employment, growing infectious diseases, climate anxiety, and geopolitical crises, expose employees to unforeseen risks. Organisations would do well to reassess their employee health and well-being strategies to identify gaps and fill them in the quickest possible time.”

He adds, “The continuum for workers with mental ill-being encompasses awareness, de-stigmatisation, identification, addressal, rehabilitation, and mainstream re-integration. Programs that include these steps have the highest likelihood of making a difference to employee lives.”

Dr Oliver Harrison, CEO of Koa Health, a leading global provider of digital-first mental healthcare, said, “We live in challenging times, with cost-of-living pressures worldwide, recovery from the pandemic and conflict in Europe against a backdrop of the climate crisis. In this context, mental health resilience has become a critical matter for organisations, public and private. With the shortage of mental healthcare professionals reaching record highs, even those employees with a clinical diagnosis struggle to access the support they need.”

International SOS provides a framework for organisations to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of their employees:

Foster a supportive work culture and ensure leadership commitment: Create a workplace culture and environment that prioritises and encourages open dialogue on mental health. Integrate mental health initiatives into relevant policies and practices that support it.

Promote mental health awareness: Implement comprehensive mental health awareness campaigns to reduce stigma and encourage open dialogue.

Provide accessible resources: Ensure employees have a toolkit of mental health resources at their fingertips, from counselling to self-guidance materials.

Adapt to individual needs: Offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate individual needs and reduce work-related stress.

Training and education: Roll out mental health training, enabling everyone to spot, understand, and assist with mental health challenges.

Monitor and assess: Seek feedback and continuously monitor the mental health of employees through surveys and assessments to adapt programmes as needed.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Provide EAPs that offer confidential counselling and support services to employees. Digitally enabled mental health care, such as the Koa Foundations Wellbeing App, allows organisations to maximise EAP and existing services uptake and widen access to care while containing or significantly reducing costs.

(IANSlife can be contacted at ianslife@ians.in)

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