NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Poor mental health amongst employees costs Indian companies a combined $14 billion a year due to absenteeism, attrition and other reasons, Deloitte estimated in a report after surveying nearly 4,000 workers.
Mental health issues have long been a taboo in India, but rising awareness among the younger generation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have made people more conscious about their overall wellbeing.
Around 47% of those surveyed considered workplace-related stress as the biggest factor affecting their mental health, followed by financial and COVID-19 challenges. The survey was conducted between November last year and April this year and was released on Thursday.
"Mental health-related challenges are not new to the Indian workforce, but these have come to the forefront in light of COVID-19, and a younger workforce that is open to speaking about their individual wellbeing," Charu Sehgal, partner and Life Sciences and Health Care leader, said.
"Not only is the number of impacted employees large, the degree of the challenge is also high, accentuated by performance-oriented cultures anchored in long and demanding work schedules, economic uncertainty, and peer comparison (especially on social media platforms)."
The survey found 80% of the Indian workforce reported mental health issues in the past year, after a second wave of coronavirus infections killed tens of thousands of people in the country last year. But stigma in society prevented around 39% of the affected respondents from taking any mitigating steps.
Additionally, 33% of all respondents continued to work despite poor mental health, while 29% took time off and 20% resigned.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that poor mental health costs the global economy $1 trillion annually in lost productivity. In India alone, a 2019 WHO estimate said the economic loss due to mental health conditions between 2012 and 2030 would be around $1.03 trillion.
(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Susan Fenton)