Fighting Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace

According to an article published on, India’s economy has recovered to the pre-pandemic GDP level of 2019-20. GDP growth in FY 2021-22 now stands at 8.7%, a 1.5% bump from 2019-20. As encouraging as those numbers are, there’s a harsh reality on the other side of the coin. What goes unnoticed is how employees are fatigued mentally. It seems mental health stigma in the workplace needs addressing.

Are we talking about mental health in the workplace?

According to an article by the WHO, about 12 billion working days are lost yearly to depression and anxiety worldwide. The cost? $1 trillion. A heavy price to pay. 

A Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India survey reported that 47% of professionals considered workplace stress the biggest contributor to mental health problems. Yet, the stigma and bias surrounding mental health issues keep 39% from talking about it.

Is there hope?

Employees may feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when dealing with mental health issues. But a quick acquaintance with the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 will reveal that not everything is grim.

How organisations can fight mental health stigma 

Provide mental health education: Company-wide training sessions to educate employees about mental health, the resources available, and how to tackle problems can go a long way in breaking biases and stigma. It’s also an excellent opportunity to let employees know they are heard and cared for by dispelling myths about mental health.

Involve leadership teams in informed dialogues: A company’s culture depends on how managers and leaders run the show. After all, teams look up to them for advice, mentorship, and learning opportunities. Leaders should engage in open and positive dialogues about mental health and drive home the idea that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Leaders should teach employees how to navigate difficult conversations, prepare mental health-inclusive toolkits, and forge authentic relationships in the workplace to foster a productive and welcoming work culture. 

Use language that is not tone-deaf: Affirmative language can help drive the stigma away from conversations directly dealing with those affected or on the road to recovery. It’s imperative to use person-first language as it can be dehumanising to reduce someone’s identity to their condition. 

Assess the physical space: Mental illnesses may also sprout from our physical surroundings. As many return to workplace campuses after working from home for years, the shift can affect a person’s mood and productivity. Crammed, noisy, and dark spaces can also adversely affect a person’s mental health. 

As mental health issues aren’t as visible as physical wounds, they are harder to address and spot. Leaders and human resources teams must build and create an inclusive workspace that allows employees to feel comfortable in their skin. Most importantly, organisations should focus on normalising conversations around mental health care and how to access proper resources for help. 


  • Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination in the Workplace | Mental Health in the Workplace 
  • 59% Indian employees may have mental health issues, 55% are emotionally burnt out | HRKatha | September 9, 2022
  • 80 per cent Indian workforce reported mental health issues during the past year: Deloitte survey | The Economic Times | September 08, 2022 
  • 9 ways employers can combat the stigma of mental health issues | WTW | August 30, 2022 
  • About Indian Economy Growth Rate & Statistics | IBEF | August, 2022

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