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D&I Initiatives Are Key To Priorities In Mental Health At The Workplace

A welcoming step towards being inclusive of mental health will be to sensitize, educate and encourage the employees as well as the leadership at all levels.

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Mental health is an often-ignored subject at workplaces. In the modern day corporate office culture a regimen on mental health is yet to be the part of daily routine.  While the stress, anxiety or depression directly linked to workload and pressure in office have become routine it’s need of the hour to focus on the mental health of the employees. 

There are many organisations which are slowly waking up to the need of the mental health of the employees and implementing some programmes like yoga sessions and counselling among other activities. It’s a good sign that mental health at work place has been drawing attention of the employers but there is a lot to be done. 

Why to Focus on Mental Health at Workplace

Mental health is often ignored or kept in wraps at workplaces as it’s still surrounded by stigma and trauma for the affected people. It’s difficult to talk about mental health issues openly without hesitation due to the fear of being ridiculed. 

The year 2020 was one of the most traumatic and stressful period due to the Covid-19 pandemic all across the world. A study by Oracle conducted across 11 countries found that 78% of workforce were affected by some mental health issues. Around 85% employees said the mental health issues related to their work affected their personal life as well. 

It’s extremely important to address the mental health issues for both the employer and the employee. An employee suffering from any kind of mental health issue like stress, depression or anxiety won’t be able to concentrate at work and deliver on the responsibilities. It’s also detrimental to the interest of the organisation. The overall productivity and output of the organisation is badly affected if the employees are not in a good state of mind. A mentally unsound work force could turn out to be a huge liability for any organisation. No organisation should take the risk of putting its manpower into any kind of risk. 

The Human Resource professionals within the organisations need to focus on the mental health issues of the employees to ensure business continuity and productivity. HR departments should focus on employees’ mental health and provide them with necessary support to manage stress, anxiety and exhaustion. 

D&I practices focusing on Mental Health

Mental health issues are not restricted to workplace alone but it escalates to personal sphere of an employee. The personal life and happiness of an employee is badly affected outside the work environment due to the mental health issues. 

The Oracle global study found around 85% employees said that their mental health issues at work negatively affect their home life.

In such a scenario a friendly work environment with a much wider scope for diversity and inclusion should be the priority of all human resource professionals. 

So far the diversity and inclusion programs at workplaces are generally planned to provide an equal opportunity and safe work environment to women, LGBTQ and people with disability. Now it’s time to create scope for people with mental issues under the diversity and inclusion activities.  

A welcoming step towards being inclusive of mental health will be to sensitize, educate and encourage the employees as well as the leadership at all levels.  

Here are some simple practices which can be followed by the HR departments to widen the scope of diversity and inclusion programme for mental health affected employees. 

  • Sensitize employees about mental health and mental illness
  • Train managers and employees to identify signs of distress
  • Encourage open communication between leaders and team members
  • Create an environment of compassion and empathy
  • Create a programme for wellbeing like yoga, exercise and meditation
  • Create policies that are mental health friendly  
  • Employ people from all walks of life

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Dr Prakriti Poddar

Dr Prakriti Poddar, expert in Mental Health, HR, Corporate and Education upliftment, Director Poddar Wellness Ltd., Managing Trustee of the Poddar Foundation. The author is a Mental Health Expert, since 1999 she began her journey working in the wellness space. She started her own wellness centre, Mind Over Image, in 2001. Since then the centre exclusively works towards mental well-being with the help of trained counselors and cutting edge technology.

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