I’m Not Ok. You’re Not Ok!

So the discussion veered to ‘Mental Health.’ How brave is it for someone to acknowledge that they need a mental health day, or that they are going through depression , or that they need help-I was told?

Brave as it may be, I countered, it’s often still a luxury for most families in India to be allowed a mental health day. And as much as I agree we can’t ignore depression or mental health, I wonder how many companies allow their employees this basic need.

When yesterday I received a call from an Agency at 9 p.m. while they were still at office, I wondered, how many hours people spend at their desks? In India, the time you spend at your office seems to have a direct and completely ludicrous correspondence to your work ethic…is that truly healthy? When in India, hours are spent commuting to jobs in over crowded commuter trains and buses and little to no time is spent with family- how does that help mental health? When going to a counsellor or mental health professional is associated with a person being unsound of mind and gossiped about- how is that healthy? We can ask for a sick day at work, but eyebrows raise if a mental health day was asked for- may be the pressure or stress is too much, it is assumed.

How can we claim to be sensitive to mental health- when everything we create around us, or expect from others is in direct contradiction to mental health?

It’s a luxury in India to talk about depression. It’s a luxury almost none can afford.

Till Indian companies start hiring a counsellor/ mental health professional on the payroll, like they do with HR and legal and other departments- it will always be a luxury. Till it is mandatory for every employee to get even 15 minutes where they can vent / talk to someone qualified to monitor their mental health- we cannot discuss or pretend to be evolved enough to acknowledge mental health as being important.

Till schools have counsellors and make it mandatory for children to visit and talk taking away the stigma attached to talking about mental health- we cannot assume that we are taking mental health seriously.

Till then, ‘mental health’ and our worries about them remain castles in the clouds. Unless we decide to remove the stigma and make a difference in our company lives, in our children’s lives and in our own lives- it will always remain a Celebrity first world problem and something that we will never actually even attempt to address.

P.s. -(Palat says): It’s easy talking about problems… we all have a ton of them. It’s solutions that are hard. Work out the solution rather than always looking for the problem.

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