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Indian mental health perspectives

On October 10, World Mental Health Day 2021, some India industry  initiatives and perspectives …
 KT Prasad, Managing Director, India and SAARC, Zendesk
: As businesses in India debate the relative merits of continuing remote work or returning to the office, what’s apparent is that employee wellness remains an imperative. At a time when digital burnout is a real concern, it’s necessary for business leaders to pay particular attention to the holistic wellbeing of employees. Since the onset of the crisis the need to be in tune with employee wellbeing needs and pivot towards support mechanisms has been more pronounced than ever. At Zendesk we offer employees mental health support through apps like Calm and personalised care through Modern Health. This is supplemented by initiatives like ‘Recharge Fridays’ where employees are given Fridays off to unwind and accommodate work-life balance in the new paradigm. One of the particular characteristics of this prolonged state of crisis is that its impact on individuals can be very varied. This is why organisations need to be careful not to adopt a uniform approach to supporting employee wellbeing. Rather, it’s important that the organisation understands the range of challenges employees are facing, establishing channels for these to be heard, understood and effectively addressed. Taking into account the unique and protracted nature of the current situation, it’s important for companies to foster a culture of empathy and ensure psychological safety at work.
Mahesh Kulkarni, MD & Co-Founder, AFour Technologies: Adapting to the new normal has been a challenge for employees in trying to create an ideal work-life balance. Companies are recognizing this and adopting measures to curb the psychological and emotional impact of this on their workforce. Businesses need to create an open culture by encouraging conversations across levels on new and emerging challenges, the toll it takes on individuals mentally, and how to address them. On this World Mental Health Day, it is crucial that we work together to highlight the importance of mental health and to do away with the many taboos associated with it. At AFour Technologies we have a large and distributed workforce of over 350 employees. The mental and emotional well-being of members has always been a focus and we have implemented various initiatives to keep our employees engaged in a positive and vibrant work culture.
Mark Milastsivy, Founder & CEO, FirstBase.io: Businesses all over the world are grappling with the phenomenon that is termed the great resignation. One of the reasons attributed to this is the mental fatigue faced by employees in adapting to the new normal. On this world mental health day it is crucial to bring the conversation about mental health to the forefront. Businesses need to introduce strategies to raise mental health awareness across the board, promote healthy emotional wellbeing and to create an environment that motivates and uplifts employees. As a remote-first company with distributed teams across four continents, prioritizing employees and their wellbeing has always been at the center of our journey at FirstBase.io. We emphasize work-life balance and try our best to align our team members with work that creates positive energy both in their personal and professional life. We create clear goals and open up the pathway between management and teams with weekly check-ins to ensure this balance is maintained. We strive to create a healthy work environment which neutralises burnout, stress, anxiety and other problems that are part of a fast paced industry
Prem Kumar, Founder & CEO, Snapbizz: There is so much uncertainty and so much risk around practically everything. The lockdown extensions and stay-at-home has put everyone on an emotional rollercoaster. With socializing being discouraged as the need of the hour, the number of cases related to anxiety and depression has gone up. It is about time we accepted this reality and addressed this issue on the work front by ameliorating the mental health support services provided by organizations towards the betterment of the mental health of their employees. We need to challenge the stigma attached to mental health. Creating a community and a healthy workplace will not only enable everyone to thrive individually but also increase overall productivity. With the retail workers being hit hard financially and emotionally, it is vital for the sector to take the lead in driving everyone out of this crisis and build hope for them. The country now needs an economic impetus to drive consumption but also a sentiment and feel good impetus.
Raashi Bathija, Co-founder, Unmath School: As schools reopen after nearly two years of closure, it is critical that students feel a sense of belonging. The children have been at home with their families for a long time, and the transition to school may be difficult for them. The planning here to make them feel at ease is critical to their mental health. We've been holding #BackToSchool workshops for students, which serve as an icebreaker as the kids play games and do activities with teachers, assisting them in connecting. These workshops enable children to do more than just perform activities by reliving all aspects of school life through a mathematical lens
Gaurav Burman, VP & APAC President, 75F India: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions. Public health actions, such as social distancing and remote working are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely leading to anxiety issues. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make us, and those around us become more resilient.  
Let's also acknowledge the importance of discussing mental health openly in workplaces. The phenomenon of always-on-work, particularly in the tech sector, has put a lot of strain on the employees. As offices choose to open with flexible workplaces there is a need to look at mental health more holistically. Offices need to build trust with employees by ensuring healthy indoor air quality and comfortable workspaces. I believe, in today's time, making mental wellness a priority is of utmost importance for everyone to flourish in their roles and reach their highest potential
 Shashank Vashishtha, Executive Director, eXp India: The topic of mental health continues to be important now more than ever with a large chunk of the world’s population being affected in one way or another. Though acceptance of seeking mental help is at an all time high, there are still those who unfortunately have to deal with it silently. This will come to an end only when it is realised that mental health is as important, if not more important than physical health. 
The Real Estate Industry is extremely fast-paced. Agents tend to have long work hours to meet demanding deadlines. With this slowing down during the pandemic, we are reminded to take a step back and look at our general hygiene, but also to do the same thing to our mental health. Thanks to this approach, a number of initiatives are being implemented to raise awareness of mental health. But what is most needed is a collective effort to make a difference. We all have a responsibility to drive positive change and how we approach mental health.
Nigel Vaz, CEO, Publicis Sapient : At Publicis Sapient, our people show up, and that’s never been more evident than in the last year and half.  We also want to make sure they take time for themselves.  Our people’s mental wellbeing is an ongoing priority for us, culminating in some new initiatives that we’re introducing this year.  We respect that everyone seeks to achieve mental wellness differently and offer a diverse range of programs and resources to address individuals’ needs and preference.
Employees and contractors of the digital consultancy Publicis Sapient are being offered a day off in October in honor of World Mental Health Day, an idea that emerged from a task group committee made up of people from across the organization. Employees are also being encouraged to stop work at three every Friday throughout the month of October as part of company’s “Free at Three” initiative.
Padmakumar Nair, CEO & Co-Founder, Ennoventure: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been increased discussion around the importance of mental well-being for individuals, especially considering the repeated lockdowns and prolonged work-from-home policies. The need of the hour is to break the stigma associated with mental well-being and mental health and to address it like any other healthcare issue associated with the human body. At Ennoventure, empathy is at the core of employee relationships. We practice a culture of openness where employees are encouraged to communicate their concerns, paving the way to identifying and providing personalised need-based well-being solutions. Today, we believe such an approach coupled with flexi working culture would help in fighting out work related burnouts, provide a work-life balance and help one recharge mentally
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WHO World Mental Health Atlas: read our report and
access the Atlas here

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LinkedIn survey finds 55% of India’s employed professionals stressed
LinkedIn has launched a special ‘mental health’ edition of the Workforce Confidence Index to address the prevalence of work stress in India, and how professionals expect greater flexibility to keep their mental health in check. Based on the survey responses of 3,881 professionals from July 31 to September 24, findings reveal that more than half of India’s (55%) employed professionals are feeling stressed at work as well-being measures become a luxury for many.
The latest edition of the Workforce Confidence Index reveals that India’s overall workforce confidence remained steady with a composite score of +55 from July 31 to September 24, 2021, despite drastic transformations in the world of work. But keeping up with these times of change for the last 18 months has adversely affected the mental health of working professionals in the country. When asked to share their primary reasons for work stress, employed professionals cited ‘balancing work with personal needs’ (34%), ‘not making enough money’ (32%), and ‘slow career advancement’ (25%) as the top 3 stressors at work today. Amid such stressful times, 1 in 3 professionals are also seen drawing optimism from the availability of jobs (36%) and improved control over expenses (30%) in today’s recovering, yet competitive jobs marketplace.
As workforce priorities continue to change in these transformative times, findings go on to indicate that flexibility and work-life balance will serve as critical talent drivers across the Indian professional landscape for years to come.
Ashutosh Gupta, Country Manager, LinkedInIndia says:These stressful times of change have impelled the need for greater flexibility and work-life balance among professionals. But our survey reveals a wide gap between what employees need and what employers are offering to cope with stress. While nearly half of (47%) employed professionals wish to end work at reasonable hours, only about one-thirds (36%) were actually able to do so. And while 41% planned for time-off, only 30% could take time off in the past two months. These alarming statistics reflect the urgency for companies to understand how creating a culture that encourages work-life balance and prioritises well being is critical moving forward.”
While greater flexibility remains a mutual need across generations, younger professionals found it easier to take a break than their older cohorts. Findings reveal that Millennials were 2x more likely to take time-offs, while Gen Z professionals were 1.5x more likely to take breaks during the day, when compared to Baby Boomers. Interestingly, Boomers were 1.5x more likely to be open with their colleagues about mental health and stress when compared to millennials as well as Gen Z professionals.
Pranic Healing Foundation brings mental health seminar
To equip people with time-tested measures to boost employees' mental well-being, Pranic Healing Foundation of South Mumbai is bringing experts at one platform  in an online event to mark World Mental Health Day.  Speakers include Sukesh Motwani (Founder Bodhi Tree Productions), Archana Chandra (CEO, Jai Vakeel Foundation), Dr. Milan B (Psychiatrist, Bombay Hospital) , Sunita Wazir (Global Wellbeing, Unilever)  and Cecilia Azavedo (Head HR Business Partners, Biocon Biologics) 
Date & Time : 20 Oct, Wednesday, 5 pm to 6.30pm 
Register at  bit.ly/wellnessatwork1