Antarmanh- Advocating mental health and inclusion of people

20 May, 2022 | Seema Rekha

Advocating mental health 1

How has your experience been since the inception of the company?

As stated by Edmond Mbiaka, “The answer to every adversity lies in courageously moving forward with faith.”

Antarmanh has witnessed a progressive and positive attitude toward mental well-being solutions across industries & sectors since its inception.

The first step was to create awareness, and the second was to advocate for mental health and the inclusion of people. Now, even the biggest employers are very open to focusing on mental health. Initially, there was a lack of awareness in corporate organisations but it was so heartening to see-sooner than we expected-that they were very welcoming of the idea of giving attention to the well-being of their employees. With each day, the impact of having a good, safe and relevant mental health service provider became poignantly evident. And in merely three years, we saw the impact of our services resulting in a positive impact on business outcomes.

We always focus on raising the bar for employees, to get them to accept change, handle adversity beautifully and create a sense of belongingness. These are the key goals for the bigger vision of Antarmanh to promote psychological safety.

What missions and objectives did you have in mind while setting up the organisation?

The first mission for us was to create healthier and happier organisations. The second was to elevate the field, as people have so many challenges in their lives-before, people viewed mental health as a part of health whereas Antarmanh wanted people to know that mental health is the core of wellness. For instance, we have seen people who have terminal diseases recover or lead a successful and sustainable life with their mental strength and strong mindset. What counselors and nurses do is priceless, and this must be acknowledged. The ultimate goal is to create and promote a culture of collaboration.

As people resume work, how will an employee’s well-being be ensured? What are the employee-centric strategies an organisation can work on?

As people resume work, organisations and employers have to understand the stressors in people’s lives, along with the transition happening post the pandemic. Most organisations have ensured the same through better insurance plans and a hybrid workplace model, and by maintaining all Covid protocols. Despite that, we cannot ensure that people’s well-being is in place. That is why it is important to understand which dimension is the most challenging stressor for people. Hassles in life have increased; some of the population was even unable to process their grief. This calls for the attention of the employers to take some measures in favour of employee’s health. Establishing personalised mental health plans for their employees is more important than presenting a generic one to them because everyone’s experience has been different.

HR policies in the present times have incorporated some of the most humanistic ideas and strategies which have stayed in tune with catering to an optimum level of employee wellness, including remote working, paid Covid leaves, vaccionation drives, divergent insurance plans, conscious leadership, and a resiliency & wellness studio.

Share your insights on the disruption of the wellness industry post-pandemic?

The holistic wellness of individuals was impacted during the pandemic. During these times, what emerged was the importance of mental health. Still, mental health has to fight against social stigma-families are dismissive of mental health, despite the increase in awareness. We have to have a comprehensive model to fight against mental health disorders and deal with mental health issues at a larger level. And we have to empower primary healthcare givers.

Because of Covid-19, mental health illnesses grew manifold in all ages and across all sectors. It cannot be denied that there are many unreported cases, as not many people are reaching out for help. People have lost family members and businesses, and are facing financial challenges as well as problems in relationships. We have witnessed post-pandemic cases of psychosis, and the suicide rate has also been high.

One major challenge that the industry witnessed was unpreparedness on the part of Mental Health professionals. They were taken off guard by a surge of cases and criticality during and post the pandemic. To cater to this, Antarmanh took a step at ensuring optimum level of readiness and commitment to the process through mentoring psychologists and coaches along with regular supervision so that counselor’s wellbeing is assured in the process.

Despite the hurdles, all sectors-psychiatrists, educational institutions, NGOs, physicians, psychologists, and the government-joined hands to take a leap and build a comprehensive mental health structure. We are still at the first stage, which is awareness.

How can employers improve their approach to mental health at work?

Employers now understand that assuring mental health is not a strategy but a need and have taking actions towards it accordingly-like provision of a counsellor on site with a 24 hour supervision and wellness and resiliency studios. There is also a clear understanding of health needs to be a holistic approach inclusive of mental, physical and financial well-being.

A culture focusing on mental well-being needs to be developed by ensuring that every employee goes through awareness training. The culture of wellness flows from top to bottom, which means that the mental health of leaders should be ensured. When leaders are ready to share their vulnerabilities with people, people will have a sense of belongingness and they will reciprocate.