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Fighting the challenge of ‘Mental Health’ to benefit employees

The responsibility to deliver interventions for mental health as part of an integrated health and wellbeing strategy – one that also covers prevention and support – lies with corporate India writes Pallavi Dhawan Gupte, Director – People Team, Dun & Bradstreet India.

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Photo Credit : Dun & Bradstreet,

People spend a significant amount of their time at their workplace, where a lot of experiences factor into their overall wellbeing. A study by the World Health Organization shows us that 1 out of 13 people in India suffer from either a depressive or an anxiety disorder. The economic loss due to mental health conditions between 2012 and 2030 in India is estimated to be USD 1 Trillion. Being a responsible corporate citizen of the nation, it becomes a moral duty to address these challenges for our employees. 

Mental health and wellbeing has often been a difficult topic to approach. Especially since, as a culture, we still believe that anxiety or depression is ‘a state of mind’ and people can snap out of it if they tried hard enough. On the other hand, we also believe that mental health issues cannot be prevented. 

Since people spend several hours in the organization they serve, we need to be vigilant about risk factors that may affect the mental health of an employee. Most risks are linked to the organizational environment and the support available for employees to carry out their work. Therefore, corporates are responsible to deliver interventions for mental health as part of an integrated health and wellbeing strategy – one that also covers prevention and support.

Establishing an encouraging environment starts from dealing with the issues of our team members with respect and sensitivity to incorporating a more holistic approach towards wellbeing.

Many employees go through tough setbacks in their personal lives and though there are those who can overcome it by themselves, the real challenge is faced by those who cannot and require external support of their peers and friends. It is very easy to impose your personal opinion on somebody going through a tough time, and even easier to tell them to ‘get over it’. However, when dealing with team members we must demonstrate respect and sensitivity, which forces us, as leaders, to briefly assume the team members’ point of view and give them space and support to deal with their issues. For example, we encourage team members to take time off when they are faced with personal issues and setbacks. Often the result of lending an ear and extending support for personal issues and setbacks is that employees may actually ‘get over it'. At the same time, it onsets a feeling of optimism, and they re-join work being more focused and loyal. 

At Dun & Bradstreet we believe in an inclusive approach to encompass health and wellbeing strategy for all our employees. India Inc. can explore various approaches to incorporate a holistic mindset and nurture employees beyond work. This goes a long way in helping employees to have a more positive attitude towards work and also increases the stickiness of employees in an organization. 

Employee well-being also helps to increase productivity at workplace thus enhancing the economic and social quotient of an organization. Companies can organise meditation workshops for all team members during office-hours for them to step back and focus on practicing the art of mindfulness -- a well-proven method to improve mental wellbeing. 

We also know that eating right is an important factor that affects health, including mental health. Therefore, much like us, many other leading organizations in the world have a nutritionist-on-board who advises and guides employees on the right nutrition intake. Few companies extend such programs to include experts from the industry to deliver talks on healthy cooking and living habits and celebrate healthy living every day. 

There are also health issues associated with working style where a major share of productive time is spent sitting at a place and working with digital devices. However, corporates have become conscious of this issue and organizations today encourage team members to actively conduct walking meetings and participate in a Zumba or Bhangra workout during office hours. To make it even more inclusive (and exciting), our company encourages employees to indulge in a team sport that meets the dual need of fostering team building skills and healthy living habits. 

And finally, everything would be incomplete if team members did not have an opportunity to recover and take breaks. Responsible organizations encourage staff to plan their long leaves a year in advance. While the workforce gets the much-required break, the management too is able to plan the responsibilities so that work is not impacted. 

At Dun & Bradstreet, we have built in a ‘Recovery Room’ which is equipped with a bunk bed, a foot massager, a bean bag and some light books to allow employees to just plug-out when too stressed and our employees are very appreciative of the same. Promoting employee well-being that goes beyond just the physical wellness helps in enhancing overall employee wellbeing and productivity.

In conclusion, mental health is a prevailing issue at the workplace in India which is costing not only the economy but also the wellness of an individual. In order to better tackle these challenges, we must provide support in form of space and/or sensitivity and a holistic wellbeing strategy, which integrates employee’s personal as well as professional wellbeing.

And as they say 'Good health is good business',  so go right ahead and empower your employees with initiatives and policies that will help them to live a successful and content life.



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