Yes, going by the 56th session of Bhutan Dialogues

Chhimi Dema  

Work overload, peer pressure to opt for further studies, and unsatisfactory work experiences were some of the factors attributed to the “burnout and poor mental well-being” of Bhutanese employees.

Constant headache, fatigue, digestive problems, difficulty sleeping, irritability, mood swings, procrastination, tardy work performance, and decreased social interaction are some symptoms of burnout, highlighted during the 56th Bhutan Dialogues session on April 28.

Psychiatrist Dr Damber Kumar Nirola, during the session, said that workplace stress is becoming “common” especially after the pandemic. He said employees who continue to work in an organisation are handed more responsibilities, after other employees leave for studies, causing work stress in them.

The psychiatrist said that many with anxiety-related symptoms, depression, and those who mentally breakdown are coming forward to seek help to manage their stress.

According to some civil servants and employees in the corporate sector, people tend to leave their jobs for better opportunities and income. A civil servant who left for studies recently said that his earnings weren’t helping him meet his expenses. “After paying for the utilities, I am left with little without saving or helping my family. It was financially stressful for me, impacting my mental well-being.”

He added that he could never help his parents financially, instead asking them to cover his expenditures.

A corporate employee working in Thimphu said that it was shameful to work for years and not have savings even for emergencies.

“It is frustrating and stressful when I constantly worry about not having money to help my family,” she said. “My family expects me to go abroad and help them. They feel having at least a family member away and working would help resolve financial issues at home,” she said.

She added that despite enjoying her work, she is obliged to fulfil her family’s needs first.

As people leave for greener pastures, those who are left behind face an increase in workload. Many complain of not having enough workers to help divide the responsibilities.

Dr Nirola said that from the previous trend of receiving more number of school teachers for consultation, today they see people from across all sectors seeking mental health support.

Another panellist, Yeshi Lhamo, a Junior Lecturer at Jigme Singye School of Law who specialises in family and tort law, said that there are mental health policies which are stand-alone and implemented by institutions.

Yeshi Lhamo said that being open and talking about mental health, stress and workload with colleagues or boss could help in ensuring one’s mental well-being.

If organisations can afford, then having a psychologist in the office can help people balance work-life, she added.

The panellists also talked about seeking spiritual support for mental well-being, and prevalence of quiet-quitting in workplaces.