In a panel at the India CSR Summit 2022 organized by CSR Box in the National Capital on the 16th of November 2022 - mental health and stressors in the workplace were brought into focus, The panel ‘Stress on the table’ discussed the challenges and suggested recommendations for a way forward.
Mental health in the workplace is particularly disregarded, despite being a pertinent subject. A report by Deloitte suggests that 80 per cent of the Indian workforce has reported mental health issues during the past year, pointing to the need to address this issue immediately. The panel addressed this through conversations around intersectionality, mental healthcare, needs of employees from vulnerable groups and digital solutions for innovation were addressed in the panel. The panel comprised of Ms Shubhrata Prakash, Mental Health Advocate; Mr Neeraj Jain, Country Director, PATH; Dr Anant Bhan, Principal Investigator, Sangath, and Dr Aqsa Shaikh, Assistant Professor, Hamdard Institute of Medical Science and Research. The panel was moderated by Dr Sukriti Chauhan, CEO, ETI
Ms Shubhrata Prakash, Mental Health Advocate said, “Mental health accommodations cannot be given just to do charity, and should follow a rights-based approach. Individuals asking for support are as capable as the ones providing support and should not be looked down upon. As an individual with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I am often told that it is not real. This needs to change and organisations must address metal health conditions as valid challenges.”
Dr Aqsa Shaikh, Assistant Professor, Hamdard Institute of Medical Science and Research addressed the need to hire transgender talent and necessity of representation in the work sector. She said, “The more things change, the more they remain the same. Hiring transgender individuals needs to be treated as more than a photo-op. Every trans awareness month, organisations ‘pinkwash’ and/or ‘purple wash’ their campaigns to include trans persons in pictures and campaigns, without accounting for their needs in the organizations. Instead of this, institutional action for trans inclusion is should be undertaken.”
Dr Anant Bhan, Principal Investigator, Sangath spoke of the dispersion of community mental healthcare and how it can be accessed. He said, “9 out of 10 individuals do not have access to mental health services when they need it. Mental health care can be dispersed at a community health level when we have adequate screening tools, medical officers are confident to prescribe antidepressants and stigma and discrimination are openly addressed in the community. We must also ensure that the providers – like community healthcare workers (ASHAs particularly) are provided with mental health support. In a pilot where Sangath was providing training to ASHA workers for building mental health support – many were able to recognise that they have the symptoms themselves.”
Mr Neeraj Jain, Country Director, PATH added that “To address mental health at the workplace – it is important to utilise a ‘no questions asked’ model to create an environment of acceptance. Digital technologies must also be utilised to reach out – especially to the younger generation. However, questions of data privacy are important and must be addressed when looking to adopt digital means.”