Mental Health Conversations at Workplace – Are We Ready?
Depression and anxiety have a significant economic impact; the estimated cost to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity – WHO
The reality? We do not talk of mental health at workplaces. We find it intrusive; we think it’s oversharing, we feel that if we talk of mental health at our workplaces, it will make us look weak, it will make us look potentially incompetent.
Another facet of the truth? Vulnerability can be a good thing!
Let us look at some of the subconscious biases that stop us from talking of mental health at workplace:
1. Mental health, Depression, Work Anxiety are a part of everyday life. One just must brave it out.
Sure, it’s possibly an everyday thing. However, does it really have to be so? Is it possible that your leadership style creates stress for people at work? Is it possible to create stress-relieving mechanisms at work?
Often workplace anxiety is less about the actual work, and more about the culture of the workplace. It can be a result of reduced exposure to sunlight, and Vitamin D deficiencies. It can be a result of the levels of team-bonding your workplace has. It can stem from harassment, toxic behaviors, and more. As an employer, do you afford the best you can, for your people?
2. We are a workplace, not friends or family. We cannot really get into people’s mental health.
Did you know that every SINGLE Dollar invested in mental health, results in 4 Dollars’ worth of productivity? Isn’t that itself a good enough reason, to watch out for the mental health of your employees? Also, beyond this – stress, anxiety, depression etc. can lead to physical health issues, substance abuse, absenteeism, and reduced productivity etc.
3. There’s enough workforce available out there. Why should we bother with those dealing with mental health issues?
That is nothing but inherent bias, lack of inclusive culture, as well as insensitivity. A lot of people don’t say this out aloud but think of it all the time. Consider, there are creative professions, where people suffer from emotional blocks. Writing for instance. Consider that mental health is not something that you need to mind for new hires, but even your existing workforce could have valuable resources, silently dealing with it. Consider that you might want to re-examine the lip-service you want to do to inclusion at workplace.
The questions around how to create a culture where your people do not silently suffer, are important. However, more important is to question our collective corporate mindsets about workplace and mental health. Are we ready to do that?