Did you know that mental health related issues are one of the fastest growing reasons for productivity losses at workplace, around the world? 

While we all understand the impact of mental illnesses, its important to clarify that mental health is not the same as mental illness. 

In a country like India, where mental illness rate itself is estimated to affect around 1 in 7 persons, Mental health issues impact each one of us.   

Mental health, according to the World Health Organization, is “the state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

Most jobs involve some degree of stress, and this can affect people at all levels within an organisation, including frontline employees, managers and senior leaders.

Even, CEOs struggle with mental health issues just like the rest of us. 

Not to mention the high levels of stress they experience in their roles. At the same time, the leaders are lonely at the top and dont have the resources to support them, when in need. This ultimately spills down to their workplace and also personal lives.

Creating a mentally healthy workplace today is as important for organisation as creating a physically healthy workplace. And, here are the top 5 reasons, you as a leader should care about mental health at your organisation.

#1. Productivity: In India, one in every five person is dealing with mental health issues. That means 20% of your workforce is predisposed to being affected, directly impacting productivity at your organisation.

#2. Retention: Building a mental health aware organisation leads to better retention of talent, particularly at leadership levels. When leaders know that their organisation cares for their mental wellbeing, studies have shown that this directly leads to retention at senior levels.

#3. Employee Engagement: When you create an environment of support and care, it goes without saying the employee retention will go up, along with morale. People will go beyond the requirements of their jobs to contribute.

#4. Attract Talent: The organisations of the future will have to compete for the best talent. For the millenial generation, being known as a workplace that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing can make you an employer of choice, and help you attract the best people.

#5. Manage conflicts: Mental health of each and every team member has a direct effect on how they function as a team. Particularly at your leadership level, you want a healthy and aligned team. If one of the members is struggling with mental health issues, it leads to blame shifting or conflicts within the team. Getting the right intervention at the right time goes a long way in avoiding such situations.

So as a leader what can you do today?  

#1. Take care of yourself and set and example. Start by taking care of yourself. If needed, engaged a coach or build a support system for you and your leadership team.     

#2. Build Awareness in your organisation. Organise a talk or a workshop on mental health issues at workplaces. Create a conversation and let people give their inputs on how to help each other     

#3. Train your leaders about mental wellbeing. The most important players in building a healthy workplace is your team of senior leaders. Help them by training them in mental health needs of their teams.     

#4. Create policies to support mental wellbeing at work. Physical safety is now built into every organisation’s policy, its time to create similiar policies to support mental wellbeing at work.   

#5. Engage Coaches for your key leaders. Having a sounding board who is trained in coaching leaders is invaluable asset for your organisation and for your team of leaders as well. Think of engaging coaches who can work with your team to support them in their leadership journey. 

And most important, take a few mins out, walk around your organisation, talk to your people, and start a conversation around Mental Health.