“Few times people suffer mental health issues silently at workplaces”

Organisations need to be made aware about the basic reasons behind the mental health issue among employees, says Dr Pallab Maulik, Deputy Director & Head of Research, The George Institute for Global Health India


Pallab K MaullikDr Pallab Maulik, Head, Research & Development at The George Institute for Global Health, India, answers questions on the workplace related mental health issues. Interventions like promoting physical activity, cognitive behaviour therapy and stress management are important mentions Dr Maulik who has previously worked with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Geneva on Project Atlas and other mental health programs. Read the interesting details below:

BV_icon-150x150How do workplace stress/ pressures contribute to mental health issues?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines workplace stress as “The response people may have when presented with work demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope,” and further elaborated that it can be caused “by poor work organisation (the way we design jobs and work systems, and the way we manage them), by poor work design (for example, lack of control over work processes), poor management, unsatisfactory working conditions, and lack of support from colleagues and supervisors”.

BV_icon-150x150Any data evidence showcasing the rising incidence of workplace-related mental health issues?

As per a study conducted across 35 countries, including India, two-third employees who suffered depression either faced discrimination at work or while applying for jobs. These perceived and anticipated discrimination can be categorized as the major causes for people suffering silently at workplaces and being hesitant to seek proper care and counselling. Alongside this, sexual harassment and bullying at workplace is another serious matter of concern which contributes to stress among the employees.

BV_icon-150x150What are the measures to be taken by organizations to mitigate the risk of mental health issues among employees?

Organisations need to be made aware about the basic reasons behind the mental health issue among employees. They need to encourage staff to maintain a good work-life balance and should take active measures to ensure that the workplace is a safe and secure place for all employees. Moreover, in case an employee is suffering from certain mental health issues, the organisation should support and encourage them to seek appropriate mental health care and counselling. It should also create a healthy environment where employees are comfortable discussing their issues with appropriate staff within the organisation, so that issues can be identified early and severe mental health issues can be avoided.

Evidence shows that no single intervention can work in isolation and it is recommended to have a group of interventions, which are available for those in need. Interventions like promoting physical activity, cognitive behaviour therapy and stress management have shown positive impact in mitigating mental health issues among employees. Moreover, workplace screening for mental disorders followed by access to basic mental health services has been found to be effective, but could lead to potential increase in anxiety levels in those who are screened as false positives, so routine screening at workplace is not recommended.

BV_icon-150x150What should an employee do if he/ she feels that they are suffering from certain mental health issues?

They should seek treatment from a professional. Revealing details about treatment are not mandatory and no organization can ask for such. However, if sick leaves are availed then a doctor’s certificate may be necessary. As long as an employee is performing, an organization should have no problems about the reason for one’s illness and any such details should be treated with the strictest confidence. If the organization is supportive, then the employee can also speak to the HR and seek any support available through the organization.