In the build-up to this week’s World Mental Health Day, an influx of emails landed in many an inbox of those writing on health, outlining initiatives taken by companies to promote the concept.

In some sense, that was a silver lining. There was much chatter around something that, years ago, barely found a mention in corporate circles. And then came a data nugget that provided the sobering note. A Deloitte study (2022) of close to 4,000 employees across the Indian corporate landscape revealed, about half the number of professionals surveyed, (47 per cent) considered workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health, followed by financial and Covid-19 challenges. Further it added, “33 per cent of all respondents continued to work, despite poor mental health, while 29 per cent took time off and 20 per cent resigned to better manage their mental health.”

While it is a giant leap that companies are even taking the trouble to talk about mental health, maybe they also needed to listen more to what employees want. Even more so, since poor mental health is estimated to cost Indian companies about $14 billion annually, due to absenteeism, attrition and other reasons, the study pointed out.

Even a random conversation with professionals will reveal, there is still stigma attached to mental health, despite several high-profile people speaking out about having to deal with their lows. People tend to down-play their mental health issues, often because they don’t believe they have an empathetic listener. And sometimes, that may be all a person is looking for — someone who listens and maybe directs them to professional help, if required. Mental health is not one broad brush stroke. There are young people dealing with dynamic environments, or older people who may be dealing with illness, grief or maybe even retirement. It’s a complex palette. And will require an empathetic, graded approach to create an environment of mental well-being.