People with mental health issues still face stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. They tend to hesitate to talk about their problems and ultimately fail to receive the care they need. Fear of being treated differently and losing livelihood often prevents them from seeking consultation. In an interview with People Matters, Dipika Chopra, the Head of Positive Intelligence for Asia and the Middle East, emphasises the importance of identifying people with mental health problems before providing them with care.
Despite progress in some countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations, discrimination, and stigma. How can the issue be addressed?
Empathy. When we empathize, we show appreciation, compassion, and forgiveness. Empathy has two targets: yourself and others. Both are important. Deeper empathy for yourself typically makes it possible to have deeper empathy for others. For most people, having true empathy for oneself is the hardest thing to do. Why? You guessed it—the Judge’s pervasive interference.
Empathy recharges our batteries and renews the vitality that is drained by the Judge’s violence toward ourselves. It bandages the wounds of the warrior before sending him out for another fight. It is most useful when the recipient of the empathy—whether you or someone else—is feeling some emotional pain and difficulty. Think of empathy as the power you should use when the emotional reserve is running low, when the person needs some recharging before moving on with problem-solving action.
There is still a significant gap between those who need care and those who can access it. What can be done to ensure equitable treatment coverage for a broader range of people?
Before we get to address the gap, I believe people are more unaware that they need care. People prove resistant to change, even when they seem to think they want it.
Think about the many books you have read and training you have attended in hopes of increasing your own work performance or happiness. What percentage of those improvements lasted? Chances are, your own experience confirms that initial improvements typically fizzle or at least erode significantly. The question is, why? The key to the answer, as I previously suggested, is one word: sabotage. Unless you tackle and weaken your own internal enemies— we’ll call them the saboteurs—they will do their best to rob you of any improvements you make. Ignoring your saboteurs is analogous to planting a beautiful new garden while leaving voracious snails free to roam.
How are top organisations helping people with mental health issues?
We are working with Stanford University, Procter and Gamble, Pinterest, Nestle, Google, Microsoft, DBS, and we realised that the focus to solve mental health issues is there, and especially these organisations are seeking solutions that are effective and sustainable.
To create mental health awareness and reduce the stigma, do you think greater investment is needed on all fronts?
Yes definitely, because taking care of our mental health on our own can be very challenging. We use many temporary mechanisms for physically surviving our childhood. As we mature physically, we replace these mechanisms with ones that better fit our adult years. Ideally, our mental survival strategies would work similarly—we would abandon our childhood saboteur strategies in favour of more mature ones better suited to the less vulnerable adult years. The challenge is that once formed, the saboteurs do not voluntarily drop out and let go. They hang on in our heads and get entrenched.
What are some other factors that cause workplace stress besides working metrics?
Your own internal enemies in your mind — we’ll call them the saboteurs—they will do their best to rob you of any improvements you make. The saboteurs are the internal enemies. They are a set of automatic and habitual mind patterns, each with its own voice, beliefs, and assumptions that work against your best interest. This definitely adds stress to yourself at work.
Why is mental fitness the X-Factor?
Similar to physical fitness, mental fitness is entirely a matter of exercising some muscles (in the brain). These muscles respond powerfully to practice.
In responding to challenges and setbacks, how quickly do you tend to shift from stress or upset to curiosity, calm, peace, or clear-headed action? Imagine how much happier and more effective you would be, if you could double that speed of recovery from negative to positive.
Groundbreaking research in psychology and neuroscience upends the common assumption that we need to work hard so we can succeed. In reality, increasing your PQ results in greater happiness and performance, leading to greater success. Success without happiness is possible with low PQ. But the only path to greater success with lasting happiness is through high PQ.