6 ways to initiate a conversation on mental health at the workplace. Find a therapist in Bangalore to seek help.

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Mental health issues always have had a stigma surrounding them. Negative judgements from others are unpleasant for anyone. When it comes to speaking about it in our work place, it is followed by a lot of fear - Fear of not getting promoted, fear of being discriminated, fear of losing the job and much more.
The pandemic however, has helped people understand the importance of mental health and how it is required for an individual to function normally. This has definitely opened up avenues for people to know and speak about their mental health concerns. However, there is still a lot of discomfort associated with such talks. Here are a few ways one can initiate a conversation on mental health at their work place.

  • Know what the problem is: Understanding your problem and the impact it is having on you is important. Only when we know and learn about our problem, will we be able to convey it well. It is important that we help the other person also understand what we are experiencing.
  • Plan the conversation: Once we know what we are suffering from, we need to know how much information we are comfortable sharing. One needs to gauge their colleagues/managers and how they will receive this information. Share your experiences with a trusted colleague first, so that they help understand how to go about it.
  • There is no “right” way of saying it: One does not need to have a script or know verbatim how they are going to speak. Once we know how much we want to share, we have to just speak about it. To do this, we have to be able to accept a certain amount of discomfort. It is definitely difficult, but it is worth it.
  • Do not do it over mail, texts, or calls: Since it is sensitive information that we are sharing with our colleagues/managers, it is always better that we do it in direct. This reduces the chances of miscommunication and gaps in communication.
  • Explore options for adjustments: Once you have had the conversation, ask your employer, if certain reasonable adjustments can be made. Eg, being able to go for therapy once a week during work hours, exploring if there are EAPs at your work place, etc.
  • Ensure that confidentiality is maintained: Sensitive information cannot be disclosed to anyone else without the employee’s permission. Talk about confidentiality openly and how comfortable or uncomfortable you are with other people knowing this information.

It takes a lot of courage for a person to talk about their mental health at their work place. But it is better that we speak about it than endure the negative effects of it at work. Not speaking about our issues will only lead to burnout, because it is not just stress related to work anymore, but a decline in our mental health, adds on to the stress. Decreased concentration and productivity, lack of motivation to even show up at work, decreased self-esteem, overthinking, and increased sensitivity towards things are all certain effects of enduring pain over a period of time. It is better we treat it at an earlier stage than later. So speak to your trusted confidants and be open to speaking with a mental health professional if the problem is too much to handle.

If there’s nobody you can trust at your workplace,seek professional help.

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Sahana Tantry
Psychologist & Outreach Associate, Mpower - The Centre, Bengaluru
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