Mental health has dominated conversations in many spheres but still lacks prominence in the workplace settings. Given the pandemic situation and work-from-home set-up in many instances, employee well-being policies need a “proactive approach rather than a reactive one”. “This begins with seriously introspecting on current organisational ways of functioning: such as pay gaps, dignity of labour, performance management and transparency of decision making,’ said Priti Sridhar, CEO, Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI), which is now out with their toolkit for corporates, titled Mental Well-being at the Workplace.
The toolkit underlines the psychosocial and intersectional approaches to mental health and “provides a framework to organisation leaders and HR departments to understand mental well-being in the workplace. “We see this report as a starting point for conversations among business leaders, human resource departments and employees to take mental health seriously and to design policies and practices that not only support an employee when they experience mental health issues but also prevent the occurrence of mental health issues by making radical changes to the work culture of the organisation,” said Raj Mariwala, director, MHI.
The toolkit highlights some stressors like difficult relationship with supervisor, inadequate authority to carry out tasks, long working hours, burnout, financial pressure and threat of loss of job which can be experienced by employees at three levels, namely ecosystem, organisational, and/or individual levels.
“People with caregiving responsibilities, young workforce, women, LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disability and other persons from marginalised backgrounds tend to face very high levels of work related stress,” it reads.
According to the 26-page toolkit, some of the key pointers enabling workplaces to have a more competent and dependable mental health policy for all levels of employees are:
*Urge corporate workplaces to adopt psychosocial and intersectional approaches to mental health.
*Guide corporates to draft mental health policies customised to meet the requirements of employees across levels and functions, with access not limited to ONLY white-collar workers but extending to employees from marginalised identities.
*Provide senior leadership and HR teams with a framework to effectively understand and ensure mental well-being in the workplace.
*Help corporates choose the right kind of service providers for Employee Assistance Programs.
“A strong policy is one that allows employees to not just access it but also creates a space for an open dialogue so that the employee can raise a grievance or complaint if it is not working as per stated objective,” the toolkit reads.
According to the toolkit, it is necessary to provide ‘reasonable accommodation’ to employees. It is defined “as any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities”.
Some of the initiatives that can help are:
*Access to Employee Assistance Programs.
*Ensuring that group health insurance covers mental health benefits.
*Leaves to deal with temporary stressors like bereavement, mental health issues, exams.
*Possibility of role or location change for a few months or longer depending on the needs of the employee.
*Paying for a ‘No Questions Asked’ mental health allowance for professional support
The toolkit also mentions that flexible working hours and flexible deadlines can help employees who are already diagnosed with mental health issues.