Dr Bijna Kotak Dasani MBE, FRSA is Executive Director at Morgan Stanley. With over 20 years of experience, Bijna has led strategy, transformation and innovation within the financial services sector across the UK, EMEA, the Americas and Asia. Additionally, she serves the Boards of The Inclusive Companies Network, FinTech Connect, CIONET, Generation Success, Cajigo and Restorative Justice for All. She shares her insights on the confluence of mental health and diversity and inclusion:
Manoj Agrawal: Mental health is becoming a matter of rising concern. Is the root cause WFH or lockdown or something else?
Dr Bijna Kotak Dasani: Mental health issues have increasingly become prevalent in the workplace in recent years and within the spectrum of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) the global financial services sector has started to test-and-learn through frameworks to support both customers and colleagues alike.
Globally, the pandemic has heightened our awareness and sensitivities towards vulnerable customers externally, and within organizations, the vertical strands of depression, anxiety, suicide, hidden abuse, domestic violence, socio-economic, cultural, racial and genderbased challenges and more.
Firms understand the importance of providing education and awareness of these topics as well as psychological safe havens / spaces whereby colleagues can authentically discuss and work through the above, without repercussive pressures of judgment, stigma and taboo.
In recent years we have observed Lloyds Chief Executive António Horta-Osório openly share he suffered sleep deprivation and exhaustion, and former Barclays Head of Compliance Hector Sants, who was signed off on medical leave in 2013 due to severe stress as reported by World of Finance (2019).
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently shared that 5 of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are mental problems (major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, alcohol use and obsessive-compulsive disorders). These disorders – together with anxiety, depression and stress – have a definitive impact on any working population. They may also develop into long-term disorders with accompanying forms of disability.
Emotional and mental health concerns can rise equally from WFH or office environments; the pandemic culture has simply accentuated this across the world.
And although these factors may attribute to mental health pressures, they are not root causes. Root causes usually attribute to cultural norms, value systems and environments within which employees bring a version of themselves to work, day in, day out. Increasingly, employer organizations are encouraging colleagues to smash stigmas and stereotypes and bring their ‘authentic’ personas to work and providing practical methods of intervention such as counselling.
What are the differences in mental health issues of those who have reduced income vs those who have full income?
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