May – The Mental Health Month

The “Mental Health Month” concept first started in America in the year 1949 and has been going on there since then. Americans were indeed among the first ones to acknowledge the importance of mental health and raise awareness about it! Almost 70 years on, it is about time, we give mental health its due in a developing country like ours where we are trying to grow at a never seen before pace. On one hand, it is a matter of pride, whereas on the other, it is causing a lot of stresses and strains on our resources and even on our health!

When we talk about health, we normally focus on physical health. But health, as per the dictionary, is not merely an absence of diseases. It is a state of complete physical, mental and emotional well-being.

There are some stark statistics based on numerous researches that can only reinforce our belief to start taking care of our mental wellness, if we want to lead a truly happy and purposeful life. Some of the headlines we come across in the leading dailies of our country are:

  • “India on the verge of becoming the suicide capital of the world”
  • “Nearly 56% of corporate employees sleep less than 6 hours”
  • “Number of people affected by mental health issues in India is larger than the population of Japan”
  • “Workplace stress is on the rise in Indian metros”
  • And the list goes on…….

When it comes to corporate India, it will not be an exaggeration to say that “A better mental/emotional health leads to a healthier and productive workplace leading to both employee and employer benefit”. Mentally healthy and present employee, will be more efficient and productive, directly affecting the bottom-line.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, focusing on mental health and doing something to ensure happier work environment is a win-win for everybody.

MeeHappy Wellness focuses on delivering highly effective Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Our mission is to help organizations get the best out of their most important assets, the employees, thereby achieving their corporate goals.

World Mental Health day 2018

10th October is World Mental Health Day

Behavioural-emotional problems can affect anyone irrespective of their age or profession. In a country like India, where 1 in every 5 people suffer from depression and more than 50% of employees suffer from some form of condition affecting the mental health, it is imperative we break the silence and talk.

Everything starts with awareness. As employers, perhaps on this special day, we can start by raising awareness among our employees about why mental health is so important. A positive psychology approach and positive re-enforcements are something that should be made a regular feature of our everyday lives.

This will help our employees for sure but will benefit the company’s bottom-line as well. It is practically a win-win for you, your employees and the society at large.

Please show your support this World Mental Health Day by wearing something green today as part of the World Mental Health Day initiative.

MeeHappy Wellness has embarked on this mission to make our society, starting with the organizations and individual employees, healthier, happier and more productive.

Help us spread the message far and find. Contact www.meehappy.com or write to us at info@meehappy.com to know more.

Do not crack under pressure like this egg!

There is a great chance that you must have heard about the record-breaking egg that has being doing rounds on social media lately. We didn’t realize at the time when it started that the subtle message behind this entire campaign would be so powerful and absolutely relevant in today’s time and age.

 

 

After garnering over 50 million likes on Instagram the egg began to show signs of cracking on Feb 4. It was given an identity so that people could relate to it and below the image was a message suggesting that the cause of these cracks was the pressure of social media!

As amazed as I was about this clever campaign that reached millions of users worldwide, I was super happy to see that mental health topics are finally being discussed in such manner and scale.

It is time for us to acknowledge that conditions like stress, anxiety, depression etc. are very common and affect everyone at some or the other stage of their lives. The intensity can vary and so can its longevity, depending upon various factors, both biological and environmental.

So, there is no shame in talking to people who care about you. Ask for help when you think you cannot cope with things or have been feeling low for a considerable period of time.

It all starts with information, with being aware of what is happening within you. The more you bottle your emotions, the greater the chances of them resurfacing with even more force. Mental health conditions can be triggered due to a variety of factors. They can be due to the environment you are in; like greater work load in office, relationship issues at home etc. or can also be biological; like due to some chemical imbalance in your brain. The good news is that in either case, they are very well manageable.

What we need is being aware and acknowledging that we need to do something to change this situation and get out of it. Then we need to know the extent of the condition and what lifestyle or any other changes we need to adopt to overcome them. It isn’t as daunting as we thought it to be, is it?

MeeHappy is a small initiative to achieve this big goal of raising health awareness, especially mental health awareness, starting with corporate employees. With the help of like-minded people and groups, we surely hope to see a day when talking about mental ailments and a visit to a therapist or a counselor will be as common as talking about a sprain or visiting a physician or a dentist.

Till then, please keep spreading the word at individual level and do not shy away to speak up in case you have something going on in your life.

Corporate Wellness and Mental Health

The first logical question before embarking on any employee assistance program is how important is mental health for the overall corporate wellness? Are there any measurable parameters or key performance indicators that will help us know whether the EAP is really working?

The buyers of corporate wellness generally and EAPs per se are becoming more aware and specific as to what they can expect from such type of a program. This means that any sort of wellness program that is woven together has to start with effective solutions to help improve people’s mental well-being. Stress, depression and mental health struggles are affecting 1 in 5 people worldwide. Various studies have shown that this is costing corporates billions of dollars and is also adversely affecting the society. The question is how can organizations help employees take better care of themselves and pay heed the mental/emotional/behavioural issues?

MeeHappy Wellness, one of India’s most comprehensive and cost effective EAP works toward helping organizations get the best out of their most important assets, the employees, thereby achieving their corporate goals. We know the sensitivity of the subject and act as a confidential buddy to the employees by providing them comprehensive and authentic information in an easy to understand manner. MeeHappy acts as an end-to-end interactive platform by providing solutions through registered solution partners.

Youth and mental wellness

It appears ‘all well’ outside. But trauma will be felt deeply inside. However, we don’t get to know about it until and unless the person expresses it or starts behaving abnormal! By then, the problem is aggravated to that extent that treatment would take more time to heal the person and sometimes it would reach the stage where healing would be difficult and the person will have to live with it!

Unfortunately, in India, mental illness is still a taboo. Most of the people find it very difficult to say that something is not right with my mind! They are scared that they would be labelled as ‘mad’ by the society and hence they hide their mental agonies to the maximum extent possible.

Mental wellness status in India:

“One in twenty people in India suffer from depression” says National Mental Health Survey, 2016. Every hour a student commits suicide; India accounts for 17% of the people who commit suicide across the world; nearly 80% of those who commit suicide are literates; 7.5% of Indians suffer from major or minor mental disorders; every two hours a person dies because of substance abuse. These are some of the statistics which show the grim face of mental wellness in India!

Mental Health Day:

Since 1992, every year the world observes World Mental Health Day on October 10th with a theme each year! This year’s theme is ‘young people and mental health in changing world’.

This is a very apt theme. The gravity of mental issues that the youngsters go through is worrisome. Stress, anger, depression, anxiety, suicidal instincts, insecurity, phobia, and so on are the common mental disorders youngsters face in today’s time.

Addiction to internet, social media and substance abuse have also been major worrying issues. In the recent times we have witnessed suicides of youngsters because of games like ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ which had created a kind of social crisis across the world. New psychological disorders like addiction for Netflix, selfie etc are also popping up!

The way forward:

We as a society should develop more acceptance for mental illness. It is just like a physical illness such as fever, cold or cough. Moreover, most of the mental disorders are curable and in fact they can be cured much easily if detected early! The family has to be more accepting and supportive which would certainly help in easy recovery of the person suffering mental disorder. As individuals we have to be more conscious about ourselves to recognize mental discomfort early! Let us move towards a mentally healthy society.

MeeHappy Wellness is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that focuses on overall health and positive psychology.

Our mission is to help organizations get the best out of their most important assets, the employees, thereby achieving their corporate goals.

We do this by designing EAPs to support employees achieve emotional, psychological, physical and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life. Starting with happy employees – happy individuals, through this initiative we aim to make our society a bit more happier and healthier.

To help your employees lead a happy and meaningful life, contact us now.

About the author

Akshara Damle is the Founder and Psychologist at Mano Samvaada

International Day of Family – 15th May

By definition, a family is a group of people who are related to each other. It is a place where we get the love and warmth of people who care about us and nurture us till we gain enough wisdom to face the world on our own.

Family is all the more important in the Indian context where for decades there was predominance of the joint family system, usually comprising three or four generations living together under one roof. There has however been a shift in this due to various socio-economic factors and slowly but surely, we are seeing a steady emergence of nuclear families.

Our family is the one we turn to when we feel low; Our family is the one we turn to, when we are on a high; Our family is the one we can do anything for; And our family is the one that we know will do anything for us.

Family Day

Spending quality time with family is the biggest stress buster we know. Starting this family day, spend time with your loved ones regularly and let them know how much you love them and their company.

Small things as suggested below can go a long way in strengthening that bond with your family and help you achieve emotional and mental well-being.

  • Have at least one meal together in a day
  • Pray together
  • Play outdoor games together
  • Do yoga with family
  • Go on short family trips

No one knows you and understands you better than your family members and it is important to keep working on your relationship with each one of them. In the words of Michael J. Fox

“Family is not an important thing. It is everything.”

MeeHappy Wellness is an EAP that helps employees achieve the highest level of emotional, psychological and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life. Our mission is to help organizations get the best out of their most important assets, thereby achieving corporate goals.

#MeToo and Beyond

Enough and more has been written and spoken and debated about this topic. Unless you have been hiding under a rock (which most people do when discussing this topic) #metoo is a social media campaign to raise the awareness about sexual harassment and abuse that women (and men) face in our society.

Though the issue is ‘trending’ on social media and print media now, it has been an integral part of our society since anyone can remember. We did not speak about it then and we hesitate to speak about it now.

Why though? Is it only the fear of social stigma or social backlash? Is it about the fear of being blamed or held responsible for it? Is it the guilt of not being strong enough to resist it? Yes all of it and beyond.

Let us look at the concept of harassment first. How do I define harassment? Is it only sexual? Physical? Or does it encompass things beyond that?

Harassment is so much more than that. It is about being made to feel uncomfortable about oneself; sexually, physically, emotionally, intellectually and more.

The most spoken one is the concept of sexual harassment. Most of us have been at the receiving end of this. The stares, the degrading words, the whistles, the accidental touches, the inappropriate gestures, being groped in crowded places. Unfortunately it is just one end of the continuum. It gets progressively downgrading and harrowing. The saddest part is that we have gotten used to the first end of the continuum. We no longer look at these as harassment. It is not something you get used to but something that you accept as one of the challenges you will face.

Sexual harassment is a violation of privacy and of personal space. However there is much more to the concept of sexual harassment that we should consider.

Is ignoring a woman as a sexual being a violation of her? Time and again I have met people with the belief that sex and pleasure is a man’s thing. Women do not need sex as much. Which is completely ridiculous since physiology and nature did not discriminate between the genders. Denying a woman her sexual freedom, questioning her character if she expresses sexual desire and suppressing her need for sexuality should also be a part of harassment.

I have met extremely educated and well-read men who do not consider their partners’ sexual needs as important. I have met people who consider a woman who expresses her sexual desires as loose in character and  someone who deserves to be ill-treated. A woman is first and foremost a human being with desires and needs like any other gender. Why then is it alright for someone else to decide that she does not need sexual pleasure? This too is a part of sexual harassment.

Then there is body shaming. There have been endless debates about the dressing freedom of women, let us not even get into that. I am talking about the physical aspect of body shaming. Making a woman feel uncomfortable about her body, her looks, her sensuality. Is that not harassment too? I spoke to a couple with sexual problems. The man complained that the wife had put on too much weight and was not attractive anymore. He would constantly belittle her for not taking care of herself, for not keeping herself attractive enough for him. Never mind the fact that he was guilty of the same. This continued till she lost all interest in the relationship and suffered from anxiety. She started believing that she was not a good wife and her husband was justified in rejecting her.

To make a woman question the way she looks, to make her feel unattractive or to ridicule her if she wants to dress up in a particular way, is that not a violation of her privacy. It is not just the woman in short dresses we judge. We also judge a woman who does not want to wear a short dress. We term her old fashioned, unappealing and someone who will never attract a man. We make her question her sexuality, her choices and her freedom to wear what she likes.

The most ignored aspect of harassment is the emotional part. Sexuality in humans is much more emotional than it is physical. Ridiculing a woman’s emotions, her need for intimacy, her need for comfort is a part of violation too. I have seen many woman talk about lack of emotional intimacy in their relationships. An attractive young professional with depression told me how she felt unwanted in her relationship. She felt unappreciated and eventually started losing confidence. Whenever she would express the need for comforting her partner would ridicule her for being silly. He did not consider emotions to be a need of an educated professional. She should be confident by herself and not require him to satisfy her emotional needs.

A woman is strong and independent for herself. Yes she is capable of taking care of herself and others. But by her own choice. It does not take away her need for being comforted by someone else, to be pampered or made to feel special. Ridiculing her for having these needs is unacceptable.

A woman is a combination of her body, her mind, her intellect and her soul. She has her strengths and she has her weaknesses. She has desires and expectations. Accepting and respecting a woman means accepting her as a whole. Sexual harassment is not just the violation of a woman’s body but our inability to accept her completely.

Preventing sexual harassment goes beyond protecting women from being physically violated. It involves taking care of them at various levels. It involves giving them the confidence to express their desires. It involves appreciating them for what they are and how they are. It involves making a woman believe that she has the freedom to fly and the choice to walk without being judged.

MeeHappy Wellness is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that focuses on overall health and positive psychology.

Our mission is to help organizations get the best out of their most important assets, the employees, thereby achieving their corporate goals.

We do this by designing EAPs to support employees achieve emotional, psychological, physical and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life. Starting with happy employees – happy individuals, through this initiative we aim to make our society a bit more happier and healthier.

To help your employees lead a happy and meaningful life, contact us now.

About the author

Dr Gauri Choudhary is an MPhil in Clinical Psychology from Mumbai. She has her expertise in Adult and Child Psychotherapy and diagnostic Psychometry. She is also competent in neuropsychological assessments and retraining.

Yoga and it’s increasing relevance in today’s world

Over the past few weeks front pages of most leading dailies have reported some or the other news related to suicides. I distinctly remember three as there was some debate around all these.

First was an IAS aspirant Varun Chandran; Second, a fashion designer Kate Spade; and Third, a celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain.

The first one was shocking because Varun took this drastic step as he was not allowed to sit for an exam because he was late and that too by just four minutes! At the outset this looks like a flimsy reason to take one’s own life but when we dig deep, we find that the exam was none other than the elite Civil Services exam. It was probably Varun’s last shot at it as he had already made a few unsuccessful attempts in the past.

For this final chance, he must have toiled really hard and would have wanted it so bad that even his life appeared to be small in front of his dream to become an IAS officer!

Perhaps the “just four minutes” was the bigger reason for the anguish as he could have made it in time if only he had done something differently and that would have continued to haunt him!

But does any of it justify as extreme a step as suicide?

Flowers with blood

Some are blaming the authorities that he should have been allowed to sit in? Some are blaming him, that he should have been more careful and reached early; and maybe his family and friends are blaming themselves that why were they not present with him when he needed them the most? But how could anyone else know what is happening with someone unless s/he opens up?

Second and third cases are of celebrities, who we would have normally thought would be really happy in their respective lives as they had every materialistic thing most of us yearn for. They had money, a fan base, and were at the top of their careers. If social media fan following is anything to go by to look at the popularity of a person, then the numbers for Kate and Anthony were unbelievable and are as below:

Depression news stats

Then why did they take this drastic step, one asks?

The answer is that they were both suffering from Depression. Depression can target anyone irrespective of the age, gender, financial status or stature in the society. It is a silent killer and people often find it easier to kill themselves than to live with depression. Depression however can be managed if people talk more openly about it. Information about the condition, access to help and making small lifestyle changes can go a long way in treating Depression.

One of the things that really helps people with depression or stress or any other mental condition is building resilience. And one of the most effective tools to build mental resilience is Yoga.

Meditation

Our current prime minister Narendra Modi, in his speech at the UNGA while proposing the idea of the National Day of Yoga said that “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. “

In Yoga you are required to focus on your breath. It is this shift of focus from one’s body to the breath that helps ease anxiety, stress, depression and even physical pain.

Starting this International Day of Yoga (21st June), pledge to take some time out to practice yoga and dhyana (meditation) to help lead a mindful, healthy and happy life.

Healthy people, make healthier, happier and more productive workplaces. So, as a unit head, if you would like your organization or team to be more productive, get in touch with MeeHappy Wellness.

MeeHappy Wellness is an EAP that helps employees achieve the highest level of emotional, psychological and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Is Helplessness an Answer or a Choice

Martin was doing experiments with dogs to study that how do we learn. To do that he divided his experiment into two parts. In the first part, he rang a bell, and along with that, he gave a light electric shock to the dog. After many trials the dog learned that the shock and the sound of the bell is coming together so later when Martin rang the bell only, without giving the shock, then also the dog shook as if it felt the electric shock. In the second part of the experiment, Martin prepared a cage which was divided into two sections by a very lower fence which the dog could see and cross if jumps. One part of the cage was electrified, and the other wasn’t. Martin kept the dog on the light electric shock’s side and expected that the dog would try to jump to go on the other side. To his surprise, the dog kept sitting on the same side and was bearing the shock without making any effort to save itself. He named this phenomenon “learned helplessness”. He was Martin E.P. Seligman, a renowned behavioural psychologist, father of Positive Psychology.

seligman-learned-helplessness-post-experiement

Sometimes I feel that we too live like that dog, because of our poor experiences of the past we lose the hope that something good can happen and we also go in the state of learned helplessness”.

We keep on living in a toxic relationship because we normalise the toxicity, we believe that it is the only way how a relationship works and therefore we put on with everything which goes. We let the other person dominate us, hurt us, disrespect us, and put us down. We give that authority to someone else to decide for ourselves. Gradually we become so much accustomed that it becomes the norm and we don’t put minimum effort to change it. If somehow we are out of a bad relationship then we are scared of getting into the new one because we believe that things won’t be different here too, so we don’t try to put any effort.

We keep on doing the same job we hate, and we are habituated with it that it becomes a part of life. We run like a hamster on the wheel for the same job from morning till evening, a job which takes the lion’s share of our day, and gradually of our life. We procrastinate as much as we can. We crave for a single holiday to get rid of that job, and the only life we really live is of those few days when we are away from our office desk. We don’t have the audacity to leave and do what we would love to do because of many factors like the money, the critical one, fear of getting failed, fear of “log kya kahenge” (“what will others say”), fear of keeping everything at stake and walk on a dark and unknown path.

We keep on studying the subjects we don’t like just because being in that particular course will get us reputed job and handsome money. We are scared to do what we want to do. We are hesitant to become what we could have become.

After reading the experiment, I thought if learning helplessness is not right then what’s the point of learning at all. I mean, that’s how we learn, by trial and error, and if everytime we get the same results, then we assume that to be true and unchangeable. What was the dog’s fault when it learned to be helpless? It was learning after all.

Then I thought it might be true for a dog but how sensible would it be if I apply the same logic to a human being, the one who evolved to prove that it is the fittest, the one gifted with the finest of the brains, the one having ability to think and analyse, the one who can create empires, the one who can reach till the moon and beyond?

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No, it’s not a good idea. Though I too love dogs, just like you do, and with due respect to dogs let me clarify that we aren’t dogs and therefore we don’t need to be governed by the same principles as they do. We should understand that the helplessness is a learned behaviour, and hence we can change it with new exposure, new experiences, and the courage to change it. We don’t have to live by the same learning throughout our lives, we can think, and therefore we can improve.

We don’t have to be helpless just because we learned it previously!

MeeHappy Wellness is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that focuses on overall health and positive psychology.

Our mission is to help organizations get the best out of their most important assets, the employees, thereby achieving their corporate goals.

We do this by designing EAPs to support employees achieve emotional, psychological, physical and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life. Starting with happy employees – happy individuals, through this initiative we aim to make our society a bit more happier and healthier.

To help your employees lead a happy and meaningful life, contact us now.

About the author

Vidushi Jaya had her tertiary education in psychology majors from Banaras Hindu University, and is currently working as a junior research fellow in BITS, Pilani (Rajasthan). Inclined towards both research and writing, she tries to find a sweet spot between the two, and convey her learning and opinions by correlating them with the things we go through daily in our lives. Her blogs can be found at https://sometries.wordpress.com/

 

Indian Men and Mental Health

June is celebrated as Men’s Health Month. While we keep harping on gender equality when it comes to issues with women, the situation is very different with respect to men and mental health.

Men are considered to be the stronger sex; strong both physically and emotionally. So much so that we rarely see a man crying in public as he has to upkeep his macho image. On the other hand, a woman can often be seen letting go of her emotions irrespective of where she is.

But are only women affected by mental health issues? Are men not equally prone to mental illnesses?

As far as my limited knowledge goes, both men and women have mind! And if they have a mind, they surely have mental health. The news is that my belief is true and various researches have come out stating that both men and women are equally affected by mental illnesses. The only difference is that men are less likely to talk about them or seek help!

Picture1 copy

Source: Mental Health America

Unfortunately, this amplifies the problem for them and results in an alarming number of related issues like anger, aggression, substance abuse, depression and in extreme cases, even suicides. In some situations, these unidentified and unattended mental health issues present themselves in the form of physical ailments like digestive issues, a racing heart, headaches etc.

Men make up for over 75% of suicide rates in US and as per Mental Health America, suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among American males accounting for 2.2% of all male deaths in 2011.

Situation in UK is no better with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) claiming that suicide was the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45. In 2015, 75% of all UK suicides were male. Considering Europe overall, an article in Psychology Today states that 43000 European men kill themselves every year. Men are also significantly less likely to utilize mental health services compared to women, with only around 30% of service users being men.

In India the situation is even worse. India is the youth suicide capital of the world, yet people are not comfortable taking about mental health issues. The below chart shows the age specific, gender specific suicide rates in India and clearly the male suicide rates surpass the female suicide rates as the age progresses.

Picture 2

In half the countries in the world, there’s only one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. In India, there’s one psychiatrist for every 300,000 Indians! The country spends 1% of its GDP on health (the OECD average is 9%), and 0.1% of that on mental health services – one of the lowest figures in the world!

This men’s health month, it is time to take the bull by its horns and focus on your overall wellbeing. There is no shame in accepting that men can be prone to mental health conditions as well. Talking about one’s mental health condition is absolutely ok and seeking help is a step in the right direction.

Majority of workforce in corporates are men and as a responsible as well as a productivity-oriented organization, it is imperative for a corporate to take care of the physical as well as mental health of its workforce.

MeeHappy Wellness is an EAP that helps employees achieve the highest level of emotional, psychological and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

References: Mental Health America, Psychology Today, National Institute of Mental Health, CALM, Philosophyforlife.org 

Image courtesy: Pixabay