COVID-19 Impact: Inflexion Point For Mental Wellness

The pandemic in its second furrow has distressed millions of lives, inflicting capital and mental ailing on the entire country.

Just when we thought the perils of 2020 were getting over, the subsequent year proved to be even more fatal. With millions of Indians directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19, the degree of uncertainty is at an all-time high. Several state governments have declared state-wide lockdowns and have intensified the demand for social distancing to combat the contamination. We are still far from understand the real long-term effects of this situation in our society and on the mental health of the people. 

According to data published by the World Health Organization in early 2020, 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and another 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders. Even though COVID-19 helped in highlighting the absent mental wellness related infrastructure and increased awareness on a larger scale, what it still lacks is a clear path for action, defined knowledge and increased transparency. 

In India, the notion of mental wellness is still at a nascent stage. People in most parts of the country are uncomfortable to speak about the issues that affect mental health, which in turn has become one of the primary reasons for the lack of knowledge about this issue, thus resulting in the deprivation of a well-defined action plan.  

The pandemic in its second furrow has distressed millions of lives, inflicting capital and mental ailing on the entire country. When we talk about COVID-19 and its challenges, it's past time to start talking about mental health. Along with proper healthcare services, India needs public awareness of mental health issues. A constructive policy, public-private counselling with professional direction and acceptability, will bring about a full transformation in the lives of many individuals suffering from emotional unrest as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Owing to the constant pressure of maintaining optimum work-life balance, constant juggling between work task lists and house chores and the uncertainty of job cuts led to an increase in anxiety related episodes across different sectors of India Inc.  

Gi Group has had continuous and special exposure to the workforce realities in India as a leading Industry leader in the area of Staffing and Search and Selection in the country for the last two decades. This is what prompted us to investigate the subject further in our recent research, "All in the Mind: The State of Mental Health in Corporate India”. This report is an exhaustive study focusing into the various stressors that aggravate/hamper employee well-being. 

Some of the findings we discovered are unequivocal claims on the topic, such as the fact that 78 percent of workers agree that the work atmosphere will negatively impact mental health. Furthermore, while 94 per cent are aware of mental health problems, only 15 per cent are receptive to them, and only 9 per cent put the sensitivity into effect. In other words: we have a crisis, a problem that is affecting the wellbeing of our teams, a problem that is affecting the bottom line of our financial statements, but only 9 per cent of employers are doing anything about it. 

This is a fantastic chance for CEOs and administrators to be bold and discover ways to change the situation.  

About the author

- The author is Managing Director, Gi Group India


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