- The Mental Health Act (2017) essentially mandates mental health at the workplace
- Before availing mental health benefits at the workplace, you must familiarize yourself with your mental health rights
Destigmatizing mental health has been an ongoing trend in India, spearheaded by governmental policies and the 2017 Mental Health Act.
The act mandates mental health at the workplace to be a compulsory measure. Companies are to provide access to psychiatric resources—including therapy, mental health training and workshops, and paid leaves called “mental health days”.
The legislature also encourages informed consent and therapist-patient confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of treatment. The workplace has no right to collect diagnostic information, even if it has appointed and referred the mental health professional. Neither can it use details of therapeutic processes and mental health-holidays to deny anyone raises or promotions.
In cases of referral to another medical professional or protecting the patient from self-harm/suicidal behavior, the act grants exceptions to the confidentiality requirements.
However, not all efforts about mental health at the workplace involve sensitive and ethical implementation of mental health rights. Some workplaces advocate mental health policies out of compulsion or to gain ‘woke’ labels or a reputation for standing against social injustice and oppression.
Alarming examples at well-respected institutes like Harvard University and Oxford Universities show how patient confidentiality in mental health programs has been compromised to serve institutional interests. Therefore, it is important that you must be well-versed in the rights surrounding policies of mental health at the workplace.
Before availing mental health benefits at the workplace, consider the following measures:
- Refuse workplace forms that compromise your therapy-related information
- Refuse referral programs that violate your mental health rights
- If you avail any workplace mental health program, thoroughly read through its terms and conditions
- Before participating, ask about the confidentiality policy
- Ask the mental health professional if there is any agreement to share diagnostic information with your employer, family, etc.
- Ask if the consultant is willing to sign NDAs for the information collected during treatment
- During the program, be aware of the information collected and shared
- Demand access to all mental health records, reports, and assessments collected about you on company records