Mental health initiatives by various organizations are featured by the media every other day. This strikingly reflects how little we know about mental health issues. Let’s look at few factual scenarios.
Do I need more leaves: During COVID – 19, people have hardly taken vacations or attended family functions, no PTM at school. Our data says except for sick leaves, most people have more saved leaves in general than in previous years. When I have general CL, PL, SL why should I separately declare my personal mental state to apply for leaves, unless it is a medical emergency?
Does staying away from work help? While work does get stressful, especially if you have an unpleasant boss, work also provides you a distraction and routine. When you are spiraling into a depressing cycle or COVID infection-related anxiety is hitting you, a regular work routine provides you the required momentum to keep going and looking forward to few accomplishments at work.
Burnout, which is often confused with fatigue, is more than just exhaustion. Detachment and lack of accomplishment play a vital role in pushing one towards burnout.
Yes, the ‘Mental health leave’ policy does help in certain situations. If your boss doesn’t care much about your leave utilization, weekend breaks, work timings, it helps to reinforce your urgency to take a ‘break’.
If you have suffered from COVID -19 wave 2 impact, you need more support and care with such extended leaves and breaks.
Few things that can be more relevant on ground interventions are:
1) Basic Skills to Counsel: The language needs to be changed around mental health. It should be okay for employees to talk about their emotions and feelings. People aren’t one tonal robot. Human beings inherently need to express themselves. Managers who learn the art of basic counselling, knows how to provide that safe non-judgemental space, and help by “being there” ( not advising ) when employees need them.
2) Leaders open up about their issues: Be the change you want to see. Today every other person needs some support, behavioral therapy to sort life. Leaders can open up about seeking help, share what worked for them for others to follow. Backbenchers will comment “we knew he/she is a mental case”, but many many more will normalize seeking help in their mind space.
3) Employee Surveys: Conduct frequent surveys, especially in work-from-home set-ups, to know what gets missed during coffee sessions. This helps to regularly focus on real needs and gaps
4) Let employees own their problems: While an organization with the best intention supports employees, let us also not start giving scores to managers based on how much their employees are happy or sad in life. Every individual has their own mind, own course of life, different conditioning. Let us try to provide a healthy work environment with trust and compassion, create awareness, provide resources to support, but keep reminding employees that they need to own their problems and find the solutions that fit them.
We can all benefit from a workplace that can understand the human behind the employee a little more. This human is inherently growing and learning. This human is failing, grieving, and recovering. All these processes are bound to have a part to play in the functioning and well-being of a person. A workplace that understands this can create harmony, growth and a safe space to be sorted.
** Mindfully Sorted is a behavioural health platform engaging organizations into meaningful interventions for employees to reach their true potential.