Making the right noises is fine but companies must walk the talk on mental health issue

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a greater focus on mental health and prompted many business leaders and companies to say all the right things on the issue of mental well-being. However, while speaking is the simpler part since it is always easier to teach others what is good to be done, more companies should […]

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The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a greater focus on mental health and prompted many business leaders and companies to say all the right things on the issue of mental well-being.

However, while speaking is the simpler part since it is always easier to teach others what is good to be done, more companies should undertake specific measures to demonstrate their willingness to walk the talk on the topic of mental health to prove that corporate groups can also act as agents of social change.

Some of the steps that companies may consider in this regard are:

  • Fostering an ecosystem where employees do not feel afraid or apprehensive to come clean on any mental health issues that they may be facing because of likely worries over whether doing so could affect their career prospects
  • Extending support to employees in mentally fragile situations by putting in place systems and processes that keep the best interests of employees experiencing mental health issues in mind and are not solely designed to insulate companies from legal liabilities
  • Making it mandatory for all employees to have annual mental health check-ups on the lines of routine physical health check-ups
  • Not shying away from hiring a person who may have had issues with mental health earlier but is now fully recovered and is most suited to perform the job (since such discrimination, importantly, may also result in the organization losing out on a likely good employee), and
  • Not discriminating against employees who have fully recovered from mental health problems when it comes to handing out promotions and increments if such people can handle the additional responsibilities and deserve the pay and perks that come with the new role.

Unfortunate, as it may be, mental health has, over the years, acquired a stigma it does not deserve. At the same time, though, the mental health issue has presented companies with a great window of opportunity to make it evident to all stakeholders that they are more than just money-making machines. The actions that business enterprises take on the mental health front, thus, would be closely watched as it may also make for interesting case studies at leading B-Schools worldwide.

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