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Female corporate employees more prone to high mental health risk than males: Survey

Updated on: 20 June,2023 10:20 PM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

The survey commissioned market research firm IPSOS to gather responses from 3,000 employees across 10 sectors and eight Indian cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, and Bengaluru

Female corporate employees more prone to high mental health risk than males: Survey

Image for representational purpose only. Photo Courtesy: istock

A new study by MPower, mental health care initiative has revealed startling challenges faced by corporate employees in major metropolitan cities of India. 

The survey commissioned market research firm IPSOS to gather responses from 3,000 employees across 10 sectors and eight Indian cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, and Bengaluru. Called ‘Mental Health and Wellness Quotient @Workplace 2023’, the survey by the initiative, an effort of The Aditya Birla Education Trust, uncovered alarming statistics.

Nearly half or 48 per cent of corporate employees surveyed are struggling with mental health issues with female corporate employees being more prone to high mental health risk at 56 per cent v/s that of men at 41 per cent. What's more, the age group between 35 to 45, known for their productivity, is at a higher risk of suffering from these issues, which can have a significant impact on employee productivity—approximately 50 per cent of these employees strongly agree that stress impacts their work productivity—and pose a challenge to the country’s overall economic growth due increased absenteeism and reduced productivity. 

The study thoroughly examined the state of mental health within the corporate employees and discovered significant insights into the mental health risk profile, including the following: 

- 1 out of 2 corporate employees is at risk of poor mental health today and among the most vulnerable group are mid-level employees, with 56 per cent of them reporting poor mental health. 

- Employees in higher positions, such as senior associate vice president/vice president, exhibited elevated levels of mental health distress with 70 per cent and 61 per cent, respectively, falling in the ‘At Risk’ category.

Additionally, the study also focussed on 10 specific sectors including FMCG, Automobile, Durables, BPO, Banking, Education, IT, Healthcare, Hospitality, and E-commerce. These sectors were selected based on the workforce they employ in the Indian corporate world and their diverse job profiles and industries and found that: 

- The sector which bears the maximum brunt of mental health risk was found to be e-commerce at 64 per cent, followed by FMCG at 56 per cent, automobile and healthcare at 55 per cent, hospitality at 53 per cent, BPO at 47 per cent, banking at 41 per cent, education at 39 per cent, IT at 38 per cent, and durables at 31 per cent. 

In addition to the high percentage of employees experiencing mental health risks in various sectors, post-pandemic work culture has also highlighted the risks associated with working long hours. Employees who work more than 45 hours per week are at a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health. Furthermore, employees who do not take regular breaks during work hours, skip meals, and fail to exercise are also at a higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges. It is essential for employers to recognise these risks and take steps to promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees. Encouraging regular breaks, providing healthy food options, and promoting exercise can all help support employee mental health and well-being.

The study also highlighted family and relationships issues at 24 per cent as the second highest reason for impacting mental health at workplace after nature of job sector one belongs to 

- 40 per cent employees strongly agree about the family/relationship pressures

- 44 per cent also mentioned about work pressures impacting their family life

- Relocation due to job change is the largest reason for increase in stress levels impacting work at 45 per cent overall

- 58 per cent of employees in the hospitality sector believe that their work pressures impact/ strain their relations with my family members followed by the healthcare sector at 56 per cent

Followed by financial well-being that has a bearing on mental health at 22 per cent and found that:

- Over 40 per cent of employees strongly agree that their finances are a concern.

- Nearly 50 per cent of employees feel the need for an alternative source of income and a better financial wellness programme to empower them.

- About 45 per cent of employees have also strongly expressed that financial stress has had a serious impact on their work productivity.

- 50 per cent of employees face situations of insufficient salaries, followed by pay cuts, which add further to their financial woes.

Commenting on the survey findings, Dr Neerja Birla, founder and chairperson of Mpower and Aditya Birla Education Trust, emphasises, "Corporate burnout and the mental health stress among employees have reached alarming levels in India, and we must take action to address this critical issue. At Mpower, we are committed to driving conversations around mental health and raising awareness to help destigmatise mental health discussions. We urge policy changes at both the government and corporate levels, with a focus on mental health as a real challenge that requires attention. Employee well-being programmes must be implemented to support those in need, and the destigmatisation of mental health is urgently required to ensure equitable support to all employees. A physically and mentally healthy workforce is crucial for a country like India, which is relying on its youth for economic growth. Let's prioritize mental health and take the necessary steps to create a healthier, more productive workforce for the betterment of our nation."

Speaking on the failure of mental health programmes in corporate environment, Parveen Shaikh, VP - Operations Mpower says, “Sadly, mental health is often overlooked and not given equal prominence in corporate settings compared to overall health. It is typically offered as a one-off service or added as a mere checkbox in the company's wellness program. The lack of policies and efforts to destigmatise mental health further limit its use and effectiveness, resulting in a failure to implement a robust mental health package. To truly succeed, mental health needs the same level of investment, thought, and planning as physical health. It's high time we prioritise mental health in the workplace and make it an integral part of the company's wellness programme."

The survey screened corporate employees for mental health challenges. It also assessed how job/work-life balance, family and relationship pressures, and financial pressures affect the mental health of corporate employees. The survey results can guide corporations in improving the mental health and well-being of their employees by implementing mental health resources and support, destigmatising mental health issues, and prioritising employee well-being as a part of their organisational culture. This can improve the lives of employees while also boosting productivity, creativity, and overall success.

Concluding the survey findings Dr Sapna Bangar, psychiatrist and head Mpower centre, Mumbai says, "Corporate employees are facing a growing risk of poor mental health, with mid-level employees being the most vulnerable. High-pressure work environments, long working hours, and lack of support from management and colleagues can all contribute to this issue. Organisations must prioritise the mental health and well-being of their employees to create a healthy and productive work environment. Providing resources such as mental health support, flexible work arrangements, and stress management programmes can help alleviate the risk of poor mental health among employees."

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