Workplace Mental Health

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Workplace Mental Health

Workplace Mental Health 

What it is

Workplace mental health refers to the psychological, emotional, and social well-being of employees within a shared work environment. (

Workplace Mental Health in India

Good workplace mental health is important not just for the individual, but for the organization as a whole. Poor mental health impacts not just productivity but also the quality of work, social relationships, absenteeism, revenue, and decision-making as well. Globally, twelve billion working days are lost each year to anxiety and depression alone ( World Health Organisation, 2020). 

Some of us might believe that poor workplace mental health is a problem exclusive to western countries alone. However, the situation may be worse in India. Approximately 80% of the Indian workforce has reported mental health difficulties in the last year. India accounts for almost 15% of the global mental health burden. From a financial perspective, corporate India loses approximately 14 billion USD to poor employee mental health annually. Further, these numbers have increased substantially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Mental healthcare at the workplace is the need of the hour. 

Risk Factors Associated with Workplace Mental Health

However, it’s also important to understand the reasons behind these dire circumstances. Some of the most common risk factors causing poor workplace mental health include overworking and poor boundaries, bullying at the workplace and poor social interactions, unclear expectations, and limited to no opportunities for growth and development. 

Work-life balance has deteriorated further with the blurring of physical boundaries, given work from home during the pandemic. People eat, sleep, and work in the same space. This makes it very hard for both body and mind to understand when to shut down and relax vs when to be active and alert. An average corporate employee in India spends approximately 80 hours a week working. That’s double the recommended 40 hours a week. Things are worse for women who are expected to balance household responsibilities and childcare in addition to work-related responsibilities. No wonder women are increasingly dropping out of the workforce. 

Another important aspect is workplace bullying and limited or no social interaction. Bullying makes one’s workplace a psychologically and physically unsafe space. Feeling unsafe in any way makes it incredibly hard for any individual to concentrate and work optimally. It also increases feelings of hostility not just towards colleagues but also toward the organization as a whole.

Further, having unclear expectations makes it hard for people to perform optimally, makes them feel bored, and makes them feel detached from their work and the organisation. Opportunities for growth and development increase job satisfaction, and goal commitment. Overall employees feel that the organisation is interested in their growth and development. This in turn increases organisational commitment and reduces turnover.

The last but most common aspect is burnout. The term burnout was coined by Herbert Freudenberger in 1974 (Fontes, 2020). He defined it as “becoming exhausted by making excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources in the workplace.’’ Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout syndrome as“a result of chronic stress that has not been taken care of”. Burnout is also included in the ICD 11 as an occupational phenomenon. However, it is still not recognized as a medical condition.  

Identifying burnout 

Burnout is identified by 3 key symptoms 

  1. Emotional Exhaustion: You feel drained of energy and you no longer have it in you to get things done–emotionally, physically, or socially. You may experience headaches, bodily pains, anxiety, and even depression. Correlates between depression & emotional exhaustion are rather high. ( Bionali et al, 2015). So, the next time feels like you have no emotional energy to get work done, attend that family dinner or catch up with a colleague over a drink. You may be experiencing burnout.   
  2.  Depersonalization: You start having negative and resentful feelings towards things that you enjoyed earlier concerning work. The social interactions at work, and the recognition for that proposal that came through no longer fill up your heart with joy but rather feel inauthentic. In other words, you no longer identify with the job. If you feel like all the recognition and monetary rewards associated with work are no longer worth it, your burnout might need attention. 
  3. Reduced professional efficacy: You may feel incompetent to manage work that was earlier a breeze or feel incompetent to be in your position overall. You start questioning your self-worth and feel helpless, not sure when all of it got so bad. 

Burnout is more common than you think. McKinsey  & Company reported that over 49% of their team was burned out. Forbes reported a higher number with every third of corporate professionals facing burnout. 

if you are facing any of these concerns please consider seeking therapy. You can book a short call with our founder and chief counselling psychologist to learn more about therapy here. Alternatively, book your first therapy session here

Therapy and Workplace Mental Health 

Seeking help hopefully through one’s workplace or else independently is the need of the hour. Here’s how therapy can help you improve workplace mental health

A Safe Space:  While things have gotten better in the recent past there is still a lot of stigmas associated with mental health concerns. This prevents people from discussing their mental health struggles at work. Fears of judgement, losing prestigious work assignments, being seen as ‘out of control’  or even the fear of being fired often hold people back. In this situation, the availability of a trained therapist allows people to feel safe and share their struggles. Therapy is a dynamic space it will always hold space for the different concerns being faced by the individual Further, this also helps break the stigma since seeing one’s colleagues benefit from therapy may also propel another person to seek help. It’s like a positive domino effect. 

Setting Boundaries:  Another important skill that therapy gives you that of setting boundaries. Boundaries are crucial to living a balanced life and preventing burnout. Therapy helps people learn how to set boundaries tailored for one’s workplace and personal life as well. It also helps build identities outside of work and question distorted thinking around the same. 

 Learning social Skills:   Some people might find it hard to connect with coleagues, especially those who may be working from home post the pandemic. Therapy can help work through situations, external ffactors and thinking patterns that might make it particluarly hard for people to socialise. Further, solution focused brief therapy also helps collaborately decide upon some steps that people can take to improve their social interactions. 

Managing  Workplace conflict : People often face conflict with either fellow colleagues or even superiors and the fear of judgement or job loss can prevent them from voicing their opinion. Therapy helps understand how to work through challenging situations. 

Workplace mental health care is the need of the hour a small step can lead to big changes. A balanced life and job satisfaction and growth are both possible.

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