India Inc employees continue to struggle with mental health issues

The Covid-19 pandemic may be showing signs of abating but India Inc remains distressed. People’s constant cycle of stress over the past two years without a break or time to develop some sort of coping mechanism has led to mental and emotional exhaustion and burnout, mental health experts said.

Although the number of Covid-19 infections in the country is at its lowest since the pandemic began, the volume of calls from professionals seeking mental and emotional health support still remains at elevated levels.

Data from mental health platform InnerHour shows that the number of callers seeking counseling help from their hotlines is 6 to 7 times what it was before the pandemic. Stress and anxiety levels among professionals are the same as last year and show no signs of abating, although life and business are returning to normal.

Others such as, a leading provider of mental health services for employees, said that in April-May nearly 20% of its clients calling for support related to stress were complaining of extreme stress and depression – a stage in which people are feeling overwhelmed and unable to handle the stress on their own. Before Covid days the number of distressed callers was around 10%.

“Prolonged exposure to chronic stress has resulted in burnout for many people. The yo-yo of good and bad news compounded the endemic mental and emotional stress,” said Amit Malik, Innerhour Founder and CEO.

Some of the top symptoms people turn to for support include panic attacks, insomnia, mental fatigue, high levels of anxiety, inability to focus or focus, frequent arguments with loved ones, and doubt and hopelessness about the future, mental health experts said and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service providers.

Many people spoke about the fear of going back to work – managing routines differently, fear of the new structure, lost productivity, fear of job loss and difficulty navigating the new normal, said Archana Bisht, director of “Life feels rearranged again,” Bisht said.

“People are also worried about children, finding support for them or putting them in a crèche/depending on outside support, also worried about their safety,” she added. “Then there are people who have returned to their hometowns during Covid. Now that companies are insisting on going back to the office, they have to look for a place to stay and return to the base location, which causes a lot of stress and anxiety for many people. ‘ Bish added. Also, many people found working from home cheaper, but that’s now increasing too, aside from the added stress of commuting to work.

A recent survey of over 20,000 Indians by HappyPlus Consulting shows that seven out of 10 Indians are regularly nervous and stressed. The main reasons for stress are Covid-19 insecurities, health, financial opportunities, family and friends, pressure at work.

Another survey involving over 5,000 professionals showed that 53% of respondents said they experience a lot of stress at work.

“The main reasons people cited were unrealistic job expectations, going back to the office and travel stress. People are experiencing major productivity anxiety as they struggle to cope with the new normal,” said Ashish Ambasta, Founder and CEO of HappyPlus Consulting.