McKinsey’s Saurabh Ladda’s Suicide – A Painful Reminder for Employee Mental Health Wellbeing

Vasantha Priya

23 March 2024

6 Mins

The recent tragedy of Saurabh Kumar Laddha, McKinsey and a graduate of IIM’s suicide due to work pressure is a stark reminder that mental health issues in the workplace are real and can have devastating consequences. It's a cry for help that we, as a society, have ignored for too long, despite seeing similar distress signals in the past.

We must recognize that many individuals are silently struggling with mental health problems while appearing to have their lives together. It's crucial to learn how to identify if your workplace is affecting your mental health, recognize signs of toxicity, and take steps to protect your well-being.

Let's come together to support each other and create healthier work environments for everyone. This article will help you protect your wellbeing in the workplace, especially if you realize it’s toxic.

Saurabh Kumar Laddha’s Suicide – Where Did it All Go Wrong?

Saurabh Kumar Ladda IIM and an IIT graduate had what most Indians dream of – dazzling degrees from top institutes in the country, and a coveted job in an MNC. He was 25 years old, had his entire life ahead of him, was in a loving relationship, and resided with his friends in Mumbai. His partner was an active part of his life, and Saurabh confided in her about the pressure he was going through.

But, we’re skeptical if he went the extra mile and told his loved ones he wanted help in managing the chaos in his life. Working in a high-pressure environment is no joke, it can severely damage your wellbeing.

Our sympathetic nervous system – the part that activates the fight or flight response, when constantly stimulated, can hurt our mental health immensely. It needs to rest, and replenish, along with our mind and body, to regulate our wellbeing. That’s why work-life balance is critical.

In a toxic environment, however, you’re always on alert mode, and there’s no way to let your guard down. This is one of the things that severely damaged Saurabh’s mental health.

His colleagues say he was a sweet, cheerful, and genuine guy. But, in the work environment he was in, he was made to run after impossible targets, with almost no wellbeing measures put actively in place. After his sad demise, so many ex-employees of McKinsey and Company came out on the internet and spoke about horrific experiences they’ve had with the company.

The news reads how Saurabh came home from a work trip to Ahmedabad around 10.30 PM to his apartment, spoke to his girlfriend one last time, and fell out of the window. What we don’t see is how much he would have wanted to receive help or give life another chance before making the fateful decision.

He believed his workplace to be his destiny, something his family was proud of, and that helped him take care of his expenses and plans. There’s a good chance he probably was disheartened by the fact that he couldn’t handle what the workplace was making him.

If only he had reached out for help when things started turning sour, we’d still have a genius living with us. But, he has shone a light on what toxic workplaces can do to you and encouraged kindred souls like you to introspect.

What Can Toxic Workplaces Do to Your Mental and Physical Health?

The impact of a toxic workplace slowly grows on you and takes root. But, it presents itself in various forms:

  • Overworking is a badge of honor, and managers shame those who get off work after their shift
  • The leadership and seniors believe work-life balance is for losers, and in your prime youth you shouldn’t waste time relaxing
  • Long working hours are the norm
  • High turnover, unexplained or uncalled-for
  • People getting fired without proper cause or reason
  • Lack of bare minimum respect, and fair treatment
  • You fall sick often and feel weak during working days
  • You feel your teammates withhold information from you, and exclude you from discussions
  • You aren’t able to form any meaningful relationships with colleagues
  • Showing subtle signs of fallibility, or vulnerability is seen as a weakness
  • Low energy at work starts spreading to your personal life as well
  • No recognition at work and others take credit for your work
  • You develop a low sense of self, and it keeps worsening
  • You feel jittery, and anxious when you arrive at work, or think about it

If You Relate to the Above, Here’s What You Can Do

The first thing to do is take an inventory of the things happening around you – look at the past month, or quarter and observe how the communication has been between you and your manager and colleagues.

Think about how you’d be treated if you were to mess up even a small assignment. Do you often feel like you’re shamed, guilt-tripped for having your time off, logging out, bullied, or given inappropriate feedback? These are red flags for a workplace.

Document everything to the T, and leave no stone unturned. It protects you against retaliation, and complaints and can be solid evidence of the work you’ve done, and the pattern of behavior exhibited towards you.

When you’re already overworked and you know you’ll be unable to complete any further work if you take it up, get clear on what’s urgent and what’s important and act accordingly. If you can’t say no to a particular situation, ask your manager to rearrange your workload. If you’re ridiculed or shamed for politely putting forward a reasonable request, you get the picture.

Practice mindfulness techniques, and keep a small, soft ball with you to squeeze when you feel stressed. Do you have someone you can talk to in the office, anyone you trust and confide in, and can open up to? If you don’t, how do you cope with the pressure at work? Do you double down on coffee, or doomscroll your way out of overwhelm? If you do, you need healthier coping mechanisms, and the best way to develop them is with therapy.

Make time for creative pursuits after work – they keep your mind fresh, rejuvenated, and agile. They also bring out the inner child in you. If the work environment is too much to handle, try asking to work from home, or wherever you feel safe in. If that’s not possible, bring a few comfort items from home, like a small family picture, a blanket, a throw pillow, etc, to make your desk your own, and feel a little bit like home.

How Do You Decide If You Need to Quit or Stick It Out?

Employees who are overwhelmed are 33% less productive than those who aren’t overwhelmed. Work pressure and overwhelm, can be caused by expectations placed on yourself, and levied by your manager, or arise due to other circumstances at work.

All things considered, you need to decide if you need to stay or leave. It’s never an easy decision to make. But, rather an important one.

Emily Douglas, an organizational psychologist says, “If you’re feeling unwell and work is mentally draining and detrimental to your mental health, it might be time to consider quitting. This isn’t good for you in the long run. Pushing through should leave room for passion and interest in your work. There needs to be a real benefit for you to keep going despite the challenges.”

How Can Now&Me Help?

World Mental Health Report of 2023, based on a worldwide assessment taken by Sapien Labs says there has been no recovery from burnout back to pre-Covid levels. The average mental health quotient for India is only 59%. The report goes to show that 30% of Indians are distressed and struggling.

Due to work commitments spilling over personal time, 10% of 18-24-year-olds in India don’t have time to get along with any of their friends or family. Studies say that the risk of mental health challenges in adulthood is 4 times higher if you have close family ties and friendships to nurture you.

Employee wellness programs aren’t a luxury to have anymore. If your company doesn’t have it, download the Now&Me app now, and get access to an array of qualified therapists with whom you can open up, talk your heart out, and process what you’re going through, while nurturing your mental health. Find like-minded people who have gone through the same stresses as you, in our community, so you know you’re not alone in what you feel. If you’re a leader or a manager and looking to bring an employee wellness program, contact us for customized corporate wellness programs now.

Find the best therapists in our app, at counseling fees starting at INR 30/- per session, and get the help you need today. Now’s not the time to wait, now’s the time to get expert help for your wellbeing with Now & Me.

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