The LGBT community being among the marginalised and victimised, there is still a lack of space for them to feel safe and protected in our country. It is true that with certain policies, we have come to a distance towards a positive approach. But mental health is still a prominent issue that is not completely addressed. When we take this step at an organisational level, we give our employees a right to equality and a platform to live their life with dignity and beauty.
Mental health matters
Due to the socio-cultural factors faced by the LGBT community in India, they suffer from several mental issues such as fear, anxiety, identity crisis, depression, lower self-esteem and much more.
According to recent research in the journal of Health Psychology, continuous exposure to homophobic behaviours can increase stress levels and have a damaging impact on health and lead to severe health issues in lesbian, gay or bisexual people.
This not only affects them but the society as a whole and workplace as well. Taking a stand today as a company will not only increase productivity and success but also establish the organisation as a place of fair and equal opportunity. As per the research from Swiss Bank Credit Suisse, organisations that are LGBT friendly by openly recruiting LGBT management or having employees from the local community tend to outperform their competitors.
Supporting LGBT mental health at work
Here are some of the steps that can be taken by your company…
Break the taboo
To begin with, it is very important that your organisation breaks the taboo that surrounds the LGBT community. Setting an example through positive behaviour and having a platform where different members can openly communicate about their grievances will bring an affirmative impact. This can be conveyed through various workshops and seminars. Special attention should be given to non-discrimination behaviour policies during inductions.
You can take a cue from Barclays which has a strong non-discrimination policy in India. The company also took a stand and sponsored the country’s first LGBT film festival. Acts like these give a sense of security and trust that the individual can not only work in the organisation but also thrive in it. Even taking small steps like using gender-neutral language such as ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ removes bias and sets the path in a positive direction.
Creating a safe environment
By creating a safe environment for the community, you can instil their faith in the workplace. This support will encourage them to give in their best and function in a cohesive manner. An overall congenial atmosphere created by the members of the organisation will boost morale and nudge LGBT individuals to come to work every day with a positive outlook.
Have mental policies in place where indiscrimination, harassment and assault against the LGBT community will result in strict actions. This sends a signal to all team members that your company functions in a positive and diverse atmosphere and advocates fairness amongst all employees. It will also encourage potential talents.
Take the instance of the Bangalore based IT company Intuit, which has been promoting making safe spaces for LGBT individuals and also has its own Pride Network. They provide counselling services where experts advise the employees. All of this has led to a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for several years consecutively.
Offering counselling services
The LGBT community is thrice as likely to suffer from mental issues than others. But yet proper attention and care is still lacking. As per the research ‘What Do We Know About LGBTQIA+ Mental Health in India? A Review of Research From 2009 to 2019’ by Jagruti R. Wandrekar and Advaita S. Nigudkar, despite high prevalence rates of the individuals suffering from mental health issues, they were not engaging in any current treatment.
By tying up with counselling organisations, you can give the individual the expert support and guidance that is very much required. Mental health being a delicate issue especially within the community, the chances of recovery are much higher when addressed by a qualified person.
Building a support network
In many cases, one might not be open to discuss their issues with their bosses or team members. Building a support network gives them anonymity as well as the comfort to address the concerns that they face. Barclays has created ‘Barclays Spectrum’ an inhouse network of employees who challenge homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in the organisation.
Include LGBT community in health and other policies of the company
Along with providing mental support, it is also imperative that provision is made for the LGBT community in overall policies as well. Providing the same health insurance and leave policies regarding partners as one would have for employee spouses as well as paid parental leaves for same-sex spouses will truly establish fairness and equality across all company schemes. This will give a practical sense of inclusion and further foster a mentally healthy atmosphere.
By nurturing an inclusive space, educating oneself on the mental health issues of the LGBT community as well taking the step in the right direction and integrating the correct approach and policies, your organisation can truly bring about a positive change.
Bouncbk is a mobile platform designed to help your employees measure and improve their emotional well-being. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more