There are four points to keep in mind. Firstly, the employer or the representative of the team should bring in awareness that having sound mental health is very important. By doing this, two distinct lot of people are helped : those already ill are not stigmatised and those having problems can recognise this and seek help. In this process, colleagues play an important role.
Instead of being critical and insensitive, they can show concern about a sudden mood change among their co-workers. Also, it will help if the employees know that the boss is concerned. But all this can happen only if there is awareness and initiative is taken to create an environment where mental health of employees is given due importance.
Secondly, the boss should be aware of his tone and instead of being critical immediately or passing a condescending judgement on an otherwise good and punctual employee, he or she needs to keep options open for communication. Thirdly, organisations should always keep in mind that equanimity is important and that they need to give all employees equal opportunity, providing no room for vindictiveness or favouritism. If you are putting pressure then put it on everybody.
Lastly, a formal arrangement should be made for employees to seek help. If there is an already established dispensary or clinic the staff there should be trained to listen to stressed out employees and then probably refer them to a centre. Companies should set up a counselling or grievance centre where the employees can go to seek help. Just like gyms and fitness centres in offices, mental health should also be given its due. This is a win- win solution as better mental health of employees can lead to better productivity and more profit for the organisation too.
(Dr BN Gangadhar, Director, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences)