This interview piece is based on the conversation between Dr. Aber Hamadah, Founder at MINDme campaign, and Ms. Jamila Al Dakny from KPMG in Kuwait.

Please help us differentiate between mental health and mental wellbeing. How does understanding the difference help in organizational policies and programs?

Mental health is a state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community (World Health Organization).

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Mental wellbeing is subjective. It is how you feel about yourself and the world. It is having the skills to live independently and fully. 

Mental wellbeing addresses various aspects of life, mainly physical and mental health as they are interlinked. It also addresses our environment, relationships, spirituality, nutrition, resilience, sleep and more. According to the Global Wellness Institute, workplace wellness is any workplace health promotion activity or organizational policy designed to support healthy behavior among employees and improve health outcomes.

They are connected, yet separate — mental health is like physical health where it is the health of the mind. Wellbeing is being equipped with the right skills to deal with whatever life throws at you. Mental health is part of mental wellbeing, except mental wellbeing is more holistic.

This can affect organizational policies and programs. Policies that are focused on employees’ mental wellbeing can have a significant impact on the productivity, commitment and loyalty of the staff. Programs and policies directed towards preventing mental illness and solely focused on mental health will not have the same impact as programs and policies directed towards wellbeing.

Mental wellbeing has become a promotional tool for modern-day corporate workplaces. Can you shed some light on the on-ground realities? Are HR functions driving the change? 

The HR teams, in my opinion, are the ones who should monitor the wellbeing of the employees. They should set programs directed towards workplace wellbeing. The HR teams are the ones closer to the individual employee, likely to know their needs and can create programs accordingly. 

Mental wellbeing is a new concept to some companies and not very well understood. To some it is a waste of time. Yet, if implemented, it will have a big effect on employees’ productivity, reduce sick days, help create a better work environment and encourage teamwork. A happy employee is a creative and a co-operative employee.


Our report highlights that while there is a lot of talk about mental wellbeing at the workplace, only a fraction of the buzz is converted into policies. How can organizations bridge this gap?

By focusing on employees’ needs. Not all programs can be generalized. If you create a program that is specific to the company’s and its employees’ needs, then you have yourself a wellness program that actually works. 

There are several steps that you can take to ensure that you have a successful wellness program that is ideal for your organization:


  • Create a simple survey that focuses on the essential elements of wellbeing and can give you a general idea of what your employees need.
  • Start data collection and analysis so you can recognize the issues that you need to address.
  • Design a wellness program that focuses on the issues you want to target. Make sure that it is flexible and practical.
  • Offer incentives to encourage the employees to participate in the wellness program.
  • Encourage feedback from employees. 
  • Start with small action plans. They will help you identify the gaps in the program early on, preventing you from spending big on something that you may not need. It will also give you a chance to modify your program according to your employees needs.
  • Evaluate the outcome by using pre- and post-program surveys.


From a pure business point of view, if an organization puts mental wellbeing at the center of its organizational strategy, how do you see it impacting the overall employee value proposition? 


The World Health Organization states that “Depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy US $1 trillion each year driven predominantly by lost productivity” (WHO, Guidelines on mental health at work). 

Therefore, a program focused on mental wellbeing can be beneficial as it will help promote good mental health, prevent work-related mental health conditions, and keep people living with mental illnesses from relapsing and help them be effective in their organization. 

So, an organization can reduce ‘lost productivity’ by engaging its employees in a mental wellness program.

Mental wellbeing in the workplace can provide a better working environment, decrease burnout rates and help increase morale. Recent studies show that happiness boosts productivity by 12%. 


Have you witnessed a shift in how previous generations perceive(d) issues around mental wellbeing and how the newer generations might? Do you think the current generation considers mental wellbeing at the workplace a deciding factor for choosing their employer?

Previous generations were not exposed to such knowledge. Plus, the collective way of thinking was different. Now, everyone is familiar with different concepts and ideas as to how one can live a better, stress-free life.  

That knowledge encourages new generations to choose a place that they can commit to, enjoy working in and be creative. Sometimes, choices are limited and current generations might choose a job that pays well and not prioritize workplace wellness, although they know it exists. 

Once they start working, they start noticing the gaps and, as a result, get frustrated. That can cause high turnover rates in an organization. To prevent that from happening, I recommend organizations that are aiming to increase loyalty and productivity create appropriate mental wellness programs for their employees.




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