In today’s fast-paced corporate world, the significance of mental health cannot be overstated. On World Mental Health Day, Anjana PV talks to Zaileshia G, Clinical psychologist, corporate trainer, Founder of Mitra Clinic - The talkspace, Kochi on the growing need for mental health initiatives within Indian companies.

Mental health, as defined by Zaileshia, is not just the absence of mental illnesses but also peace with oneself and harmony with others. This concept aligns with the goals of any corporate environment, aiming to enhance employee satisfaction and productivity. She also notes that there has been a noticeable shift in how corporate India acknowledges the existence of mental health issues, which is a crucial step towards creating a supportive work culture.

The podcast also dives into whether companies are genuinely investing in mental health initiatives or merely using them as marketing campaigns. Zaileshia claims that the notion that it’s mere pretense is false, asserting that enlightened employers recognise the interdependence within the corporate ecosystem. “Cooperation means nobody gets there until everybody gets there,” she emphasises. Companies are increasingly conducting mental health training programs and workshops for their employees, even following up to ensure the sustained impact of these efforts.

The conversation shifts to the impact of working conditions on employees’ mental well-being. Zaileshia points out that negative, stressful work environments can lead to anxiety, depression, and substance misuse, as confirmed by the World Health Organisation. Elements like job dissatisfaction, time pressure, reduced social support, and lack of control can contribute to immense stress. Additionally, work can either exacerbate pre-existing conditions or trigger predisposing factors in employees. Therefore, creating a supportive and healthy work culture is imperative for maintaining employees’ mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in mental health, both in the corporate world and society at large. The crisis forced people to become more introspective, prompting them to address existing issues and discover new challenges. Remote work during the pandemic had mixed effects, with some employees enjoying it while others struggled with the isolation and communication challenges.

One critical issue discussed is the inclusion of mental health coverage in health insurance policies. The podcast also emphasise on why mental health should indeed be covered, equating it with other health issues. Comprehensive coverage would not only destigmatise mental health but also encourage more people to seek help, ultimately leading to happier and more productive employees.

The discussion also details on how Indian companies can foster empathy and safeguard their employees’ mental health. Suggestions include designated time for meals, encouraging honest communication, organising group activities for physical and mental well-being, and creating a non-judgmental work environment. Zaileshia believes that awareness and education on mental health are key, with experts providing accurate information and dispelling myths.

In the podcast, Zaileshia underscores the importance of mental health and well-being, not just for employees but also for the growth and success of the corporate sector. Without mental health, achieving excellence and results becomes exceedingly challenging.

Listen to the podcast.