From the day after my graduation exams, I started working for a call center aka BPO. For all the people who are unfamiliar with the two terms, ‘when you call in a customer support team to complaint about how crappy the internet is, the product you bought was or something else, I’m the person from the other end who keeps on saying – I understand let me see how can I help you today.’ Anyway, spending so much time in a BPO, growing from an agent to an Assistant Manager I understood one thing, Wedding is more important than Mental Health.
Now don’t get me wrong, wedding is important for the bride and the groom and the families and friends, but that doesn’t mean Mental Health isn’t. There is a reason I’m talking about Wedding and Mental Health in the same sentence.
When you work in a BPO, the major task is to tell your manager you need an off or leaves. The trickiest part is most of the time if the leave reason sounds something like, “I have a personal thing. I need a personal day off.” The response would be, “Why don’t you handle your personal work during your week off?” On the other hand, no one can ever deny a wedding leave. I mean what manager would ever say, “Don’t get married on this date but on your week off.”
In my previous organization, I asked for mental health leaves which should be considered as sick leaves after I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was bluntly told, “We cannot afford this kind of absenteeism. Come to work, we will figure out how things work.” I wanted to tell the in charge person, “Umm… you don’t even know what depression is. You probably think, I am sad for something that you said or work pressure or relationship issues.” Sadly, I couldn’t say it to him because of the respect I am supposed to give him. I politely told him, “I understand mental health leaves are not commonly asked for. But given my state at the moment it is not advised for me to stay away from family in a different city. So, I’ll just let you decide how you want to accept my resignation.”
On the contrary, a month before this incident, a colleague of mine, a fellow Assistant Manager was getting married and she requested for a month and a half leaves for her wedding preparations. Her story is short because it was accepted. No hard feelings for her, I wish her all the happiness in the world.
But this got me to thinking, Mental Health issues are so scarcely known in India that we cannot tell someone that we are depressed or are seeking help from a professional because they in turn start judging our capability. I was even asked to hush once and not be so vocal about my depression.
We easily give leaves to someone who is getting hitched, but when it comes to mental health we can’t even understand it. There are so many people who have to lie about physical sickness like headache, tummy pain, fever but cannot say depression or anxiety because their Manager wouldn’t understand it.
With this post all I’d like to request is – if you are someone’s manager and you are handling a team of people, talk to your people ask them how are they feeling emotionally, mentally not just physically. If someone walks up to you and says they want an off for mental health, please consider it. It is a little more important than marriage. If you are an employee and you work for someone and if you are depressed or are battling from any sort of mental health issue – firstly, please seek professional help. Secondly, please be vocal about your issues to your manager.
We need to understand that, we spend more than half of our lives at work, if we cannot open up at work, where can we? If one person starts talking about mental health at work, many would. This will bring a big change in the suicide cases we are seeing everyday. We will see a lot of people taking lesser stress.
Stay Safe! Keep Reading! Keep Blogging! Love Thyself!