A Pioneering Effort to Address Mental Wellbeing for Working Indians in the COVID era
Arogya World launched extensively researched mental health criteria,
as part of its Healthy Workplace framework in collaboration with Librum, to help corporates address employee mental wellbeing in a structured manner, at Arogya’s online Healthy Workplace conference. This effort, the first-ever of its kind in India, was initiated by Arogya World in direct response to repeated requests from business and HR leaders in COVID times.
Why the Framework: The Context: The World Health Organization estimates that India will suffer economic losses amounting to a staggering 1.03 trillion dollars from mental health conditions between 2012 and 2030. The post-pandemic world and shifting workplace dynamics, like work from home and job uncertainty, have worsened the situation. While employers are trying their best to reach out to employees through various programs, the stigma around mental health in India makes it very challenging.
Librum Drs Shekhar Saxena and Vikram Patel, both world-renowned mental health experts and professors at Harvard University, worked with their colleagues and with the Arogya World team to develop these criteria. According to Shekhar Saxena “We wanted to develop a values- and evidence-based set of criteria that would provide a roadmap for implementation of good mental health programs, launch meaningful initiatives and raise awareness around mental health in workplaces in India.”
The Criteria: The new set of criteria cover a number of aspects like Promoting Well- Being, Managing Stress, Leadership and Supporting Recovery, and have been merged with Arogya World’s existing Healthy Workplace criteria that cover physical health promotion and NCD prevention efforts including No Tobacco Policy, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Shifting Mindsets. Roll-out plans and scoring guidelines for the combined criteria will be communicated clearly to interested companies, going forward.
“By putting mental health on par with physical health, this ambitious and comprehensive set of criteria will spur India’s companies to action and help them address both NCD prevention and mental well-being simultaneously,” said Nalini Saligram, founder & CEO of Arogya World. “This will help India’s workforce stay healthy and be more productive and can help increase India’s future global competitiveness.”
Arogya World completes 10 years in 2020 and has been working with nearly 150 companies enabling them to become “Healthy Workplaces”, constantly providing them with insights and programs to address NCD prevention and other aspects of employee health in a comprehensive way, while encouraging the companies to be more data-driven in their approach.
Arogya World believes in constant improvement and a proactive approach in addressing health issues at the workplace, and the new mental health criteria are another step in this direction. Other efforts to encourage companies to address mental health include case studies on how exemplary Healthy Workplaces have reduced stigma and successfully deployed mental health programs to large employee populations plus a set of stress reduction text messages for working Indians developed with NIMHANS. We also conducted webinars on mental well-being with partners such as CII, iNFHRA, CBRE, GACS, NHRD, Manah Wellness, and others. In solidarity with One Mind At Work, Arogya World encourages more CEOs and business leaders in India to commit to tackling mental health at work. The time to act is now – mental health issues are widely recognized as a major fall-out from COVID.
Mental Health Criteria