By Vikram Beri, Founder, BetterLYF.com
23-year-old Sonali, a post-graduate from one of the premier B-schools in India was riding high in success in her last semester as she received a pre-placement offer. She was excited about finally living her dreams. It didn’t matter that Atul, her boyfriend, would be working in a different city and parents living in another. As she neared her 6 months with the organization, she found herself lonelier than ever, unappreciated at work, and between a relationship mess. She would often end up crying in the restroom after her boss would embarrass her in front of other colleagues over trivial things. Atul who was earlier big support was not always available. Every feedback seemed like criticism intended to mar her competent inner self.
The cut-throat competition in today’s conglomerates and corporate sectors is unparalleled. 12-14 hour work shifts, pressurizing deadlines, neck-breaking workload, clashing personalities of team members, lack of appreciation, harassment, tough boss et al and has been contributing to the increasing stress and consequently decreasing emotional wellbeing for the workforce.
42.5% of the employees in the private sector in India suffer from depression or some form of anxiety disorder according to ET Contributors. That’s one out of two employees whose productivity is taking a serious hit. According to WHO statistics, economic losses in the ballpark of 1.3 trillion have been predicted before 2030.The outcome of this ever-rising mental health epidemic is sleep-deprivation, low immunity, higher burnout rates, absenteeism, anxiety, depression and in extreme cases self-harm.Small getaways, parties, alcohol and smoke breaks provide short term respite at best. Left unaided, minor emotional challenges snowball into breakdowns leaving a person incapacitated to function at an optimum level. There’s a massive spillover of work stress to personal life and relationships and vice versa. It’s a downward spiral really.
A vast majority of employees do not reach out to workplace counsellors due to fear of judgment, the stigma attached to mental health concerns, consequences on their profession, questions raised on their capability to work, etc.A lot can be done to prevent and cure mental health concerns. Resilience training, Stress Management Workshops, Employee Assistance Programs, Manager & HR sensitization to identify signs and symptoms of deteriorating mental health and resolving them effectively are some effective ways to build a happy and healthy workforce. Some employees prefer to interact with a psychologist one on one outside of the workplace or over the phone, chat where they get to keep their identity anonymous.It’s, therefore, a need of the hour for corporates to implement mental health awareness programs to promote the overall wellbeing of their people.
The growing trend of corporate wellness programs in India
A survey by Cigna 360 degree revealed that 82% of respondents reported feeling highly stressed due to work, health, and finances. With alarming statistics from the past decade, there emerged a growing need for corporate wellness programs that is no longer sidelined as just another HR initiative. Assocham in 2018 estimated that corporates can save upto 20 Billion Dollars by implementing wellness programs in their organization. Thus, it has found its place in the market to save businesses and people.
There has also been an expanding definition of wellness in the past decade. From outcomes related to only physical health, we have now pieces of evidence available on its link with mental health. Mental health has been a neglected aspect of overall well-being for a long time, evident in still prevailing stigma and need for anonymity while availing the sessions. The growing trend suggests that the corporate world will tap into digitization and AI to look into the health &well being of their employees.
There are corporate wellness services available that facilitate online consultation for nutrition coaching, dermatology, weight management as well as stress management. BetterLYFis one such platform that offers online as well as onsite coaching & therapy services, although we have a large number of corporates requesting only online counseling or a helpline number.
Use of technology in the mental health space
Technology has invaded our lives today. With all needs met with the help of tech, mental health is not behind other spaces. In recent years we have seen online mental health spaces sprout pan India as well as overseas. Now, you can meet your therapists over the phone, chat, video.
We also have tools available to monitor our heart rate, blood pressure, etc that gives us instant feedback. We see them in a very popular form of wearable technology like smartwatches. AI and machine learning have not only helped monitor and manage health stats but also have become a part of treatment plans. Their role in more complex versions of mental illnesses like psychosis, ADHD, clinical depression will translate into a more seamless assessment, reporting, and care. The devices would be able to detect more complex sensors like mood, brainwave, voice pitch, etc.
Technology can play an instrumental role in bringing mental health awareness, connecting to a mental health professional and improving outcomes, but cannot serve as an end itself.