Workplace Mental Health

By Nivedita Singh

A shout out to heads of organizations talking of addressing workplace stress. While one needs to applaud the initiative, please don’t airdrop ‘experts’ who are not trained in the facilitative dimensions of Mental Health to address your employee’s wellbeing. My office is increasingly getting inundated by individuals who emerge more stressed than relieved from such workplace benevolence. Please trash the “very insightful” feedback your stress busting initiatives may have elicited. Employees, even millennials are sometimes too vulnerable to be genuine. There’s plenty at stake. You as their bosses don’t get to know how your well-meaning efforts carry the potential to screw people up further. That’s a narrative that unravels in our offices.

A therapist’s repertoire of life enhancing skills are not acquired through watching YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, to celebrities and media personnel and various ‘other domain experts’ spewing wisdom. Nor is it acquired through Optimize, Audible and Blinkist. Our training puts us through a rigorous bootcamp of experiencing what it feels like to hit a dead - end, of going through the discomfort of drowning, of not being rescued while we “gulp in” water, of dealing with the undertow even when swimming with the tide… and all this through sharing our real life problems. Over and above this we learn and practice more than a hundred different interventions for problem management and opportunity development. Till you have walked in those shoes, till you have experienced the vulnerability of sharing, of disclosures, of raw emotional pain, of fumbling your way towards a solution; anything you trot out because you’re well intentioned is most likely damaging if not cute. If you haven’t been there and done that … Don’t try it on others! As experts we are tired of doing damage control, or worse still, have people lose faith in the process.