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How Therapy and Mental Health Benefits have helped Corporates

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Work has always been an integral, basic, and everyday part of our lives. The average adult spends around 90,000 hours or 10.2 years at work throughout their lifetime(1). However, for something that takes up such a huge chunk of our lives, work and workspaces have historically been fraught with stress and risk factors for mental illness. The pressures of deadlines and productivity, the challenges of creating a work-life balance, the intricacies of socialising and workplace hierarchies, the fatigue of daily travel in traffic, and many more can create exhaustion, overwhelm, stress, and burnout in employees.

What is the relationship between Mental Illness and Work?

There is a significant link between the presence of stress, burnout, fatigue, etc. and the development of mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and substance use problems. Working in stressful work environments can further exacerbate and worsen the mental health of employees who might already be struggling with various mental health conditions. A 2022 study by Deloitte on the mental health and well-being in the workplace of 3995 employees revealed that 80% of them had experienced mental health issues across the year and at least 47% of them shared that workplace-related stress was the biggest factor affecting their mental health(2). Additionally, research has shown that work stress also has a negative impact on physical health and causes headaches, sleep disturbances, weakened immunity, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases among others(3).

How work is impacted when employees struggle with their mental health

Motivation, attention, and energy which are all linked to productivity are negatively affected by mental illness. There is also an increase in absenteeism, i.e., not turning up for work, and in presenteeism, i.e., being physically present at work but not being able to engage with it(4). There may be a breakdown of communication channels within the team and the organisation in a larger frame. Moreover, the mental health struggles of an employee can affect morale across the board. Increased stress and burden on the mental health of employees can also result in employee attrition. The study by Deloitte further highlights how Indian employers lose around $14 billion per year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition caused by poor mental health among employees.

How can corporates address the mental health needs of their employees?

  • Employers can increase access to mental health resources through improved mental health coverage, subsidised counselling or therapy, and onboarding of EAP practitioners. An Aon study from 2023 showed that since the pandemic 80% of Indian companies have started providing employee assistance programmes and mental health support to their employees, and there has been a 51% increase in companies offering outpatient department (OPD) benefits compared to 2019(5).

  • Increasing mental health awareness within the organization helps with the early identification and treatment of mental health conditions and avoids worsening the severity of the symptoms. This can be done through workshops, training, education sessions, and just increasing the conversation within the organization.

  • Intentionally creating work-life balance and reducing the stress and pressures of work by setting aside time for relaxation and rejuvenation. TCS is one such organization in India that has been adopting flexible working hours, work-from-home options, and other strategies post-pandemic to help improve employee well-being(6).

  • Providing accommodations to employees who might be struggling with their mental health like flexible working hours, extra time to complete tasks, and increased support from the team and supervisors can also help reduce their stress and improve wellbeing.

  • Providing mental health sick leave. Meesho recently launched an unlimited leave policy under their MeeCARE programme and also has a company-wide 10-day leave for all employees to unplug, rest, and rejuvenate. InMobi also rolled out a 21-day Wellness Leave Policy in 2021 and has a ‘no-questions-asked’ policy on providing leaves(7).

In Conclusion, work and workplace relationships play a very significant role in maintaining the overall well-being and mental health of individuals. Moreover, the well-being of employees also impacts their quality of work and engagement with the organisation. Therefore, providing mental health and therapy benefits can be very helpful for corporates.

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