With the help of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, the initiative will potentially help millions solve problems caused by stress, anxiety and other emotional or mental issues.
Fortis Healthcare, India’s leading healthcare provider, and WayForward, a US-based digital, mental and emotional health company, recently launched an app-based wellness programme in India, at a special event in Delhi.
The programme uses techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT and mindfulness to help millions solve problems caused by stress, anxiety and other emotional or mental health issues in the comfort of their own homes. Its unique ‘coach in your pocket’ concept lets those with mental health issues solve their problems, without the fear of stigma. The event had experts who spoke about stress and its impact on individuals and organisations in the present times.
Dr. Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural science at Fortis Healthcare said, “Mental and emotional health issues are more common than we imagine and impact almost every family, placing a significant burden on individuals and society. Clinical experience and research data show that stress is ruining relationships and hurting our overall health and wellbeing. I believe this programme would make a positive impact on the wellbeing of individuals, and hence, benefit organisations and societies at large.”
The Asia-Pacific edition of the Staying@work Survey (2013–14) conducted by Towers Watson for Indian employees, revealed that almost one in every three Indian employers had instituted stress or resilience management programmes in 2013, and an almost equal number planned to follow suit in 2014. With stress being ranked as the #1 lifestyle risk factor in India, this number was expected to grow.
The predictions came true. A recent study conducted by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that a company in the banking/finance sector, with an average workforce of 5,000 employees, loses approximately Rs 100 crore in productivity losses a year because of stress-related issues. Stress costs an IT-ITeS company with 10,000 employees, about Rs 50 crore and a company in the travel and hospitality sector with about 2,000 employees, a little over Rs 10 crore.
A study by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations found that India’s rapid economic expansion has boosted corporate profits and employee incomes, but has also sparked a surge in workplace stress and lifestyle diseases that few Indian companies have addressed.
Addressing the many concerns while launching the programme, Bhavdeep Singh, CEO, Fortis Healthcare said, “Many people today find themselves unable to manage daily stress in professional lives. They also find it hard to consult a mental health specialist as they feel embarrassed about it. Despite advancements on many fronts in India, there is a low level of awareness regarding stress and mental health. In such a scenario, this HR conclave by Fortis Healthcare and WayForward is a welcome initiative to bring various stakeholders together. This digital health programme is a very innovative and much-needed solution for our increasingly stressed society.”
Dr. Navya Singh, founder-WayForward and researcher at Columbia University, New York explained, “Our mission is simple — to ensure that everyone has access to mental and emotional health support at all times. To accomplish this goal, we have created a solution based on scientifically proven techniques, which is available to users through their smartphones. Our research with users of the WayForward app in the US has shown that more than 80 per cent cases showed improvement in just three weeks. The study also highlighted that problems, such as overeating, sleep disturbances and lifestyle diseases, can be consequences of mental and emotional health issues.”