Study reveals pandemic takes a toll on mental health of those who are partly working from home
The pandemic has completely transformed the way the masses perceived wellness and the relation of mental health with wellbeing, with 86 per cent of people equally engaging in activities to improve both physical as well as mental health, according to ICICI Lombard General Insurance. The survey, undertaken by ICICI Lombard, aims to understand the proactive interest towards health and wellness in today’s post-pandemic era. This proactive approach towards staying healthy is also visible in cherry-picking health and wellness products more clamorous in a post–Covid world. The same is evident from the increasing awareness, and hence, demand for health insurance.
To understand the overall shift in consumer behaviour towards health and wellness, ICICI Lombard General Insurance has undertaken a Pan India survey with over 1532 respondents, across different metro cities with different working statuses such as partial WFH and complete WFH. The survey further revealed that the prime motivator for every 2 in 3 respondents was being aware of the benefits of healthy lifestyles, to take a step in the right direction.
Commenting on the findings of the health and wellness survey, Mr. Sanjay Datta, Chief - Underwriting, Reinsurance and Claims, ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company Limited, said, “With the transformed perception of the masses, our consumer base today looks at a health insurer not only for financial immunity during times of ill-health but we are now looked up as a partner in their holistic wellness journey. Additionally, through this survey, we observed a mindset change taking place with 47 per cent of people and 42 per cent of the younger age group (25-35 years) wanting to adopt a healthy lifestyle to not just get a better appearance but also feel better about themselves. Therefore, keeping overall wellness as a focus, ICICI Lombard intends to act as a conduit towards a health-conscious India.”
While healthy habits are here to stay and grow, 100 per cent of the respondents who’re involved in some of the other healthy habits are likely to adopt them on a long-term basis, and those who were not into these habits, as an impact of the pandemic, are likely to adopt them.
Relating Mental Health to Overall Wellness
The study revealed that Covid-19 has taken a toll on the mental health of those who are partially working from home, the data showed a noticeable decrease in the health status proportion from 54 per cent during pre-Covid to 34 per cent during the post- Covid era.
Interestingly, the study found that women were able to better maintain health as compared to men. While mental health seemed to be a challenge for both during the pandemic, 38 per cent of women respondents were satisfied with their mental health status, as compared to only 35 per cent of men. Similarly, for physical fitness, women again maintain physical health better than men with 49 per cent of women being satisfied as compared to 42 per cent of men.
Considering the geographical variable, Mumbai remained as an exception while physical and mental health ratio has dropped for the major metro cities like; Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Pune. Ahmedabad also stood out in terms of mental health. While the overall gap concerning mental wellness in India stands at 14 (pre-Covid vs. post Covid), there are these 2 cities Mumbai and Ahmedabad where the gap is minimum (7 and 6 respectively).
The survey also found that there has been a significant decline (15 per cent) in the mental health status when a close family member contacted Covid, from 49 per cent pre-Covid to 34 per cent post-Covid. On the contrary, the mental health status of the individual remained the same, when they contacted Covid themselves.
Challenges on Road to Holistic Wellness
Highlighting the increased individual health priorities, the survey further revealed that lack of personal time (45 per cent) and finances (44 per cent) are the top deterrents to adopting healthy habits. Commitments at home are another challenge faced more by women as compared to men with 44 per cent of women being impacted by the same.
Additionally, financial constraints seem to be a major challenge in cities like; Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Pune, hence adversely affecting the health of most people in these cities. Whereas managing time is more of a problem in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, and Pune.
Employees as Key Partners on Journey
Almost 1 in every 3 people’s personal life is affected due to work stress, results showed from cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. Prominently (89 per cent) people expect employers to implement health and wellness programs and only (75 per cent) are satisfied with what is being currently offered by their employers. Highlighting the fact that a sustainable place of work is essential for productive results, various aspects already provided by the employers have now become hygiene such as health insurance, gym, and flexible working place. Additionally, employees also require certain facilities as part of the new normal such as regular health check-ups, work-life balance, and healthy food at the cafeteria, and workplace ergonomics as a need of the hour.
Changing Face of Technology and Work-Culture
Given the pandemic accelerated the usage of technology, the survey observed that usage of medical devices and apps is more prominent among those who have contacted Covid-19 and once recovered are more likely to drop these habits. The data showed that while 70 per cent use technology such as websites, smartphone apps, fitness monitors, and activity trackers to monitor health, only 53 per cent of people are intending to use these in the future, showcasing a drop of 17 per cent.
In terms of working environment, hybrid work culture is less preferred by employees and 70 per cent prefer either working regularly from home or office. The survey had further set a new standard for workplace environment resulting in 40 per cent preferring open office space with informal seating, 37 per cent prefer regular seating with desks assigned and 23 per cent prefer regular seating with desks unassigned in an office environment.
Concluding the findings of the report, Mr. Datta, said “The survey showcased the extent to which health and wellness have come into the spotlight with healthy habits at the centre. The paradigm shift in mass perception has resulted in an increased propensity to invest more, financially, physically and mentally, into maintaining the holistic wellbeing of themselves and their loved ones.”