‘ACT NOW’ For Better Employee Mental Health

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy? Well, not sure about dullness, but whether it be Jack, Jill, Jane, or Julie, one thing we are confident about is that all work and no play can wreak havoc on an individual’s mental health. Let’s ACT NOW!

Today, numerous studies indicate that workplace stress is a prominent factor that leads to the deterioration of one’s mental and emotional wellbeing. For instance, the Mental Health Foundation, United Kingdom, states that approximately 1 out of 7 individuals experience some form of mental health concern because of work-related stress, which often becomes the reason employees drop out of work (Rajgopal, 2010). Moreover, declining mental health effects even trickle down to workplace outcomes such as performance, productivity, and presenteeism and even impact their personal lives and relationships.

More recently, the pertinence of employee mental health became even more prominent during Covid19, where employees found themselves working extra hours, often collapsing under blurring boundaries between work and life. This was made exponentially worse by the gendered division of labor, especially for those with caretaking responsibilities where few often found themselves sprinting between WhatsApp pings and doorbell rings. Although Queen, the British rock band, said the show must go on, we know it can’t go on for too long unless organizations prioritize employee mental health. It’s time to ‘ACT NOW’! But how can organizations do it? By keeping the acronym ACT NOW in mind.

Come take a look!

Act now- Acknowledge the importance of mental health

Mental health is a universal reality of our existence. Every individual on this earth’s face, including you and I, has mental health and can experience periods in our life where we experience poor mental health. In cases where prolonged periods of poor mental health are not met with any intervention, it can translate as a variety of mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, among many others. More specifically, in the workplace today, despite alarming numbers of individuals who experience mental health issues owing to workplace factors, more often than not, its importance is shoved under the rug. Therefore, the first step for managers and leaders is to become conscious of mental health in our lives and realize how it plays a central role in how one thinks, feels, and acts. It is important for heads of organizations and departments to acknowledge the work an individual is doing. For instance, Saying something like – ‘you’ve had a hard day and I know this must be tough for you’, can go a long way!

aCt now – Change own notions about mental health and wellbeing

Across the world, managers and leaders are slowly beginning to realize the importance of mental health in the workplace; however, many organizations may still not value its significance even today. This could either be because of an inherent or implicit bias towards mental health or simply a lack of awareness. It is pertinent for leaders and managers to actively seek knowledge and challenge their notions about mental health and wellbeing.

Manager and leaders could:
– Introspect and evaluate the beliefs they hold about mental health.
– Introspect why they hold them.
– Challenge their beliefs and assumptions and replace them with new information.
– Actively seek new information.

acT now- Touchbase with employees and listen to what they have to say

Many organizations have begun devising policies and are constantly looking for ways to better their employees’ mental health. Although some of these strategies may work for some employees, they may not do justice for all. Even more, organizations may assume that they know what their employees need or what makes them feel good mentally, but a one-size-fits-all rarely seals the deal.

There are two ways this issue can be navigated:
– Review and seek feedback on whether the new strategies devised are making a difference in people’s lives. For instance, an organization may believe that a weekly coffee social with all employees would make employees feel great, but its possible employees may not feel that way in reality. To make this work, it is also necessary for organizations to open communication channels within the organization and make their employees feel psychologically safe to ensure they don’t fear voicing their opinions.

– Ask them what they need because every individual has different needs that cater to their wellbeing. It could be half-day on Saturdays for one, and for another, it could be gaining more autonomy in the workplace. Merely assuming that yoga or meditation is the panacea to mental health concerns can seem ignorant and can do more harm than good.

act Now – Note grievances and analyze the situation

While allowing employees to talk candidly about what they are feeling can be cathartic for them, no action on the behalf of the organization can be detrimental. Organizations need to make a conscious effort to note every grievance that comes their way and analyze how they can be addressed. Of course, not every suggestion or grievance can be met immediately, but strategically thinking about possible solutions can make employees feel welcomed and wanted.

act nOw – Open channels for psychological support within and outside the workplace

Psychological support is integral to deal with employee mental health concerns, whether one gains it within the organization or outside the organization.

– Within the organization, mental health training such as mental health first aid that teaches employees, managers, and leaders the skills to identify and respond to mental health issues within the workplace can play a significant role in addressing mental health concerns. Essentially, the mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for an individual who may be experiencing a mental health challenge and provides initial support and guidance to them.

– Outside the organization, organizations can provide Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which help employees deal with their personal problems and professional issues that negatively impact their job.

act noW – Work towards eradicating stigma

Stigma prevents individuals from speaking out and being their authentic selves, making matters worse for them. Many employees still face discrimination and are ostracised because of their mental health condition. It is crucial to raise our voices against the stigma towards mental health in the workplace. Organizations need to actively talk about it and educate themselves and others about what it means to experience a mental health challenge. Experiencing a mental health challenge needs to be normalized, and this can only be done when organizations choose to empower employees than to shame them.

‘ACT NOW’ to make the world a mentally healthier & productive place to live in.


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We have an exciting update!

Six years ago, we started Karma Center for Counselling & WellBeing with limited ideas, resources and a dream. A dream of making mental health resources available in a sex positive, queer affirmative and accessible way to people in Delhi, since then we have seen growth and the ability to cater to our populations in the margins. It has been heartwarming to see our efforts go global over the years. What started small and has gained so much momentum as an organisation since then. It is with immense pleasure that I announce the launch of our new website!

The shift to online mode of working influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic has made me realize the importance of having a website that is people-oriented and easy-to-use. The first website was made by me using a simple template structure but at the time it gave direction to the vision that was still under construction! This website has been developed on a more professional level. While thinking about sections to add, It brought me great joy to see the way our service offerings have evolved and expanded to include, say supervision for new therapists or  working with prison mental health, to name a few. 

The excitement is palpable, as our in house psychologist and interns have put in all their efforts to create this new website. The team has incorporated various aspects to make it a smooth navigating experience for our users. 

Karma is more than just an organization, it is a family. Our family is growing and we could not be more grateful. This month we reached the 3k milestone on Instagram, and I would like to wholeheartedly thank all our subscribers for this as well.

I would like to again thank you all for being a part of our journey and supporting us. I hope this family continues to grow with the same love and support from each and every one of you!!

Manavi Khurana

Founder & Counselling Psychologist

Karma Center for Counselling & Well-Being

Karma Center for Counselling & Wellbeing, F7/7, Block F, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110057, India